late at night,
i dream about breaking in and taking back
everything i had to leave behind.
this is not figurative.
your disc drive on which is stored
every memory of my teenage years
an apt metaphor
for all that you took that i wouldn’t get back
no matter how many
windows i smashed or
doors i pried open
while you lay fast asleep in the bed we made.
how do i teach “poems that kill?”
how do i arm my students for this world
when the color of my skin makes me
a strange vessel, means that
i am the rightful target?
you convinced me that
you’d die without me, but still
almost killed us both.
it’s clean, honest work
the myth that lured me north; real
life demands a mess.
you are young, black, and impulsive.
everything I love you for
makes you somehow a threat to this world.
just like the bitter, clear air of late winter,
so cold it hurts to breathe–
twelve once, too.
i hold your fragile
ego in my palms and think:
oh, wow. no wonder.
i squeaked my way slowly down the stairs before dawn,
forgetting my glasses on the bedside table,
forgetting to turn on the lights,
forgetting everything but the dim glow from the streetlight,
the dull, heavy ache of my heart.
i never realized, or else, was made to forget: it is a fragile thing,
this heart of mine.
the streetlights flicker
on the sidewalk, in the cold–
on and off, on and
the change of seasons here is
no longer heralded by mud as it was in a past life;
it is instead marked only by
an inconstancy of coats.