talking quantum physics and human stories on the hardwood floor, i am struck by the brightness of your eyes, intertwined with gentleness, you are a tangle of compassion and critical thinking, brush strokes against synapses illuminated, there is music in the way the planets align
what are we, if not creators, lovers and thinkers, carriers of every story we’ve survived and every story we hope survives us?
you are the outstretched hand, welcoming, ushering everything forward, better, forget the broken pavement behind us, miles ahead there is more for us, if we understand there is magic to believing in magic, hope in holding reality in these shaking, aching palms, you are withness, bearing witness to our wildest becoming
you are warm conversation into the early hours, glass empty on the table but inspiration overflowing, a story unraveling and coming together in the exact same exhale.
oh, wide-eyed lover, someday you may just learn to let a smile across the dimly lit bar be a grin, let the song that played the first time his lips met yours be music, let the things he whispers in blue early hours be words
perhaps, tender poet, you can rest your pen, let the folded up shirt he left behind be a hoodie, let the villains who left scars in their wake be men, let a wound, somatic, on your open sternum be healed
or, bright-hued painter, you may just keep on embellishing, let the lunch under overcast skies be an adventure, let the hand finding yours while sleeping be a love song, let the hard days that didn’t break you be a story.
coq au vin and steak frites, one of each, swap your plate with mine, catch our breath from running through chilled streets, laughing, what about this place, pear martini, stories of theme parks, what about this
my handwriting is feverish, graphite dusting the margins, i want to forget nothing, cannot permit the blurring of a single whisker, somehow this time i am sure it’s important
i have never been one to run down a road i haven’t yet vetted, and yet i am running, chasing you through city streets under lamplight, what about this place, you ask me, my eyes settling on you, what about this
the calendar year shattered and spilled in splinters across the floor, and we were so broken by the brokenness we very nearly missed the way breaking makes room for new worlds
you are unlike anyone i’ve ever allowed myself to imagine, unprecedented, and i can’t quit wondering whether our eyes would have found each other in the unbroken age
i’m drinking gin and watching someone sigh and set his story on the lamplit tile, my god, the worlds we carry, and i’m seeing you, pupils dilated, and i’m remembering how addictive it is to be seen, sober and chasing you through subway stations, i feel drunk and unafraid of the hangover
sweep things free from the coffee table, make some room for your sweating back, i want to watch you in this moment, paint your picture over every old, broken plan
glass of wine at my lips as the new world unfurls, the here, now, the everything, catching light in wild fragments.
what is growing if not learning to trust our broken fragments to come back together in the case we lose our footing in the following of our wildest whims
nobody keeps themselves safe by trying to glance ahead, pages flipping, skimming paragraphs for clues, the writing’s never on the wall ’til it is, ’til it stares us down in scarlet ink
won’t save my skin by holding my breath, can’t taste the truth and shroud myself away at the same time, sing to myself softly, i may not know where this road will carry me, but these palms are known in the art of reassembling a shattered self
plant your kiss against my jawline and there grows a poem on the way someone’s face never quite looks the same as it does at 1:31 a.m., eyes locked in indigo lighting, what a privilege to witness you firsthand, i can’t, for the life of me, pull my eyes away
and there, in the place where your head met my sternum, a poem for the way my wildest, brightest plans pale so abruptly the moment they are stood beside what is real and unimagined
when i tell you that you make me feel poetry, i mean to say that there are wildflowers stretching themselves across my wanting limbs, reaching, with the rest of me, for you
what a thing, waking to see your shoulder blades in silhouette your dark hair a tangle the rise and fall knowing, for the moment, we’ve chosen this, here, now
cluster of daisies in an empty espolón bottle, tee shirts and socks strewn haphazardly across the hardwood floor, bearing witness
if it’s true, like they say, that God doesn’t want this for two boys, then why did he hand us these wee hours, simple truths in honest light, why does your hand remember its way to mine while you sleep?
I have the bad habit of holding my breath to get through painful things. At the doctor’s office, in a routine blood draw, my nurses often ask if I’m okay. Breathe, they remind me. Gentle eye contact, reassuring pat on the shoulders.
It’s like, if I can sit just still enough, the wave of hurt might pass me right by. Sometimes, by the time I realize I’ve stopped breathing, my lungs can’t help but gasp for air.
Over longer periods, the holding my breath gets (thankfully) less literal. After I realized I was gay, but before I was ready to tell anybody, holding my breath looked like ceasing building any concrete plans for the future. I stopped hoping for things, halted writing any plans, because the future felt suddenly out of reach.
That time lasted years, stacks and stacks of months where I was just scraping for hope in the present day, and, when I finally said those words – to myself, to my friends, to loved ones – I felt like my lungs finally freed up a bit of room.
It’s been a year of holding my breath, friends, of trying to wait out the grief of all my broken plans, but my sternum aches for honest air, and I haven’t saved a single person, myself included, by standing perfectly still.
No matter what the world feels like, time has resumed its quiet continuity, ushering all of us onward. We have lost jobs, packed our belongings in boxes, set them out in new spaces. There have been positive pregnancy tests, tearful hugs of grieving, tumors found in the bodies of our bravest, steadiest heroes.
So this is me, showing up, taking the deepest, if shakiest, breath I can muster. This is me declaring that surviving a pandemic is not the limit of my creative reach.
So often I am preoccupied by the people who belong in my past chapters. Loved ones who have died, lovers who have left, friends whose laughter I haven’t heard in years. It is jarring to me, the realization that I cannot bring them to today’s pages. The best I can do is keep their stories, taxonomies of our times together, nestled in the eaves of my being. Ask any of my friends: I overflow with stories.
Sometimes, in the midst of telling a friend the story of the time I was kissed in an empty storefront, I glance into my beer and furrow my brow. ‘I’m sorry,’ I chuckle, ‘I forget why I was telling you that.’
‘Because you remembered it,’ he offers, graciously, ‘and you wanted me to remember it too.’
Every time somebody goes, I feel a grief I know will echo throughout the rest of my lifetime. Time demands we give up so damn much to see what waits ahead, and dragging our feet only muddies the journey. The world feels, at times, indifferent to our grieving.
And yet there are skies that bring us hope on heavy mornings, cacti that blossom on the windowsill in light of the January snow. Living may be a hard damn scrape, but it stitches us back together all the same.
Above perhaps all things, I don’t want to regret. I don’t want to wish I’d been gentler, wonder what might’ve happened had I found the courage to speak. I am terrified of leaving my I-love-yous left unspoken, of leaving behind more scars than stories in my wake.
In my story, I have gotten it wrong. I have failed, on occasion with colossal emphasis. I have hurt people I have tried to love, and I have placed my time and energy in the wrong directions.
To dwell too heavily in the past, raking myself against my history’s hard edges in an effort to absolve myself, is to waste today.
In the same vein, to hold my breath and close my eyes in wait of better days is to miss the wonder of what’s happening right around me.
Pandemic or no, I inhabit a world, today, that will, come tomorrow, never again be within reach. It’s up to me to show up to it, to carry yesterday’s tomes and tomorrow’s hopes along with me into my living. There are love letters to be written, laughs to be shared, stories to be etched into the greater tale.