This is what I remember as I am dying
Beside my father and my brothers:
I remember the vows,
Twice we vowed that we would never
Abandon each other, that even our
Descendants would be loyal.
Oh how I’ve suffered keeping those vows!
And now, as I die beside the family
I turned against, the destiny I accepted,
All for him, I am saddened by the
Bitterness I feel.
I spent my life proving my love!
What did he ever sacrifice?
I knew before I ever met him
That I would never be king.
My father had already sealed my fate,
And I was relieved when I met the boy
God had chosen to take what
Many would see as rightfully mine.
I had fought for my Lord
And for my father. I had been
As loyal a son as either could ever ask for,
But I was humble enough to realize
That I was destined to be a loyal
Son and companion, never a hero.
He was the one (I could tell from
The first time we met) that should be
King. And I was honest when I told him
That I only hoped that he would not
Hold my fathers sins against me; I only
Ever wanted to be close to him, even if
I had to be a servant.
Now, humble as I may be, I am also
Proud. He was the hero people loved,
The one who slayed ten-thousand men,
But I had my fair share of victory, I had
Killed my fair share of men. I was not some
Soft, spoiled prince. I was not my sister.
But my sister was the one who didn’t need
To prove herself on the battlefield or
With vows and promises. My
Spoiled, selfish sister, my beautiful, vain sister,
All she had to do was give him a look,
And he was killing men to earn her hand.
When she helped him escape, she
Spared herself with lies, proving how
Shallow her so-called love. I, on the other hand,
Was almost killed by my own father
For defending him. I never faltered,
I stood by my word, even when it meant
Denying my father. And now, at the end
Of our story, she is about to be married, again,
And he is on his third (of what I am sure will be
But it is not his fault. It is some cruel
Twist of our fates, another of our Lord’s
Unfair devices, that I have felt the way I have.
He was always faithful to his promises.
I could not hope for a return of the love I gave
He loved me like a brother to the end,
He loved his women and his wives, and
It was I who was confused. I, who abandoned
My own brothers, who never knew a wife,
Who saw a king in the boy God chose,
The one who is dying alone, I
Should never have loved
The shepherd king.
I’ve been living off love since the day I was born
Except for the times I’ve been distracted by the paint on the walls
Which seems to be every night I’m alone
So I fill my bed with anything that might keep me whole.
Now I’m living a life that I feel is close to the edge
Of exploding and spilling my soul through my tightly closed hands,
And I know that this shrapnel would surprise all my friends,
And I doubt they would recognize all the things that came from them.
I’m living my life between the lines
Of the pro and con list that divides my time
Into things I should be doing and the things that I do.
There never seems to be enough time for you.
These dreams I leave behind become stumbling blocks
As I backtrack through the past and I blindly walk
Through the crossroads that branch off in a million ways,
And the only map I own is the light of the day.
I shook the hand of Time
And bid him farewell,
Hoping he would go on his way
And leave me be.
But his cold hand slid up my arm
And the harder I pull away
The deeper his sharp nails pierce.
He’s dragging me over Beautiful Land
Moving too fast for me to get a good look.
The wind, so unlike a cool breeze,
Stings my skin and hurts my eyes.
Every mile we cross ties me closer
To his death bound bed,
And I don’t know if I can’t leave
Because he’s holding me,
Or because I’ve grown too frail.
One day, years from now,
When we’re old and feeble,
And our children are gone,
And their children are gone,
And we have nothing to do
Except read and travel and eat
And meet people and use coupons,
One day, we’ll look back and
I hope we like what we see.
When I return from my journey
Don’t be heartbroken if I don’t recognize you.
Once you’ve traveled the world,
No place is home.
You will be missed, my brother.
It was a little over three years ago you died.
I hadn’t talked to you for months
And in a moment I was sitting, stunned,
Regretting all the times I never called.
The most mortifying thing was realizing
That I couldn’t remember the last thing I said to you.
I couldn’t even remember the last time we talked.
I immediately started planning the five-hour drive
And dreading the inevitable reunions with our old friends.
You will be missed, my brother.
I finally cried when I saw your mother
Standing beside your coffin, looking half-dead herself.
I cried when she remembered me and hugged me,
And I knew that my being there reminded her of a different David,
The awkward freshman we shared for a season.
I cried when I realized how different the body in the coffin
Was from the boy who used to be my best friend.
I cried when I wondered if you knew how much
I missed you, even while you were alive.
You will be missed, my brother,
Tomorrow when the newspaper announces
Another countless death like yours.
You will be missed next time I taste
The crappy beer that shattered our lives.
You will be missed by the wife you never held
While she’s falling asleep in the arms of someone
Who isn’t half the man you could have been.
You will be missed when I see your name in my phone.
You will be missed, my brother.
The spark of fingers brushing
Lightly against each other,
Illuminates the cloud
Floating between our bodies.
And the cloud becomes denser
As we let the sparks pull us closer
To the place we said we wouldn’t go.
But the farther we pull away,
The faster we come back to
This no man’s land
Of tension and excitement.
I can smell your hair,
And on its scent a drug
Floods my brain and rocks me
Gently, pushing me steadily
And I wonder
Does she feel this too?
And I can tell you do.
And after an eternity of this
We give in and let ourselves
And it’s better than imagination.
Better than anticipation.
And both of our eyes are screaming
Come a little bit closer.
Come a little closer.
She smells of a hastily smoked cigarette.
Gone is her old familiar smell,
and with it our old familiar friendship.
She approaches quickly
and she purposefully sits,
not ungracefully, but as if she has no time for grace.
I ask if she’s going to order anything
and she tells me she hasn’t got time
(dashing any hopes I had of catching up).
She obviously means business
and this is turning into a business meeting.
I feel more betrayed by this misunderstanding
than I do by her actual betrayal.
I find myself nervous, like I am on trial.
This is not how the prosecution played itself out
every night for the past week
as I lay awake listening to the things,
the horrible, stinging, unfortunately true things,
I planned to say to her.
These things have left my brain,
And she has left me.
I want to fall asleep
exactly when you do
so we start dreaming together
and stay with each other
even in sleep.
I can’t bear to lay here
while you’re lost and alone
in some nightmare world,
or worse, while you’re
happy in a dream world
But you always fade
into sleep first.
I don’t mind,
Watching you sleep
is better than any
dream I’ve ever had.
Dream of me,
and in your dreams
take my strengths
and leave my weaknesses
here in the world
of the wake.
I’m captured by the smooth river of smoke that flows
Purposefully and wildly out of her mouth
and I can’t look away.
I can’t find anything else to look at.
It veils her face and
enhances the angles as it dissipates.
Her lips curl confident and
I am that cigarette.
I feel her drawing me in and I go,
Subject to her breathing, leaving when she
forces me out, but
lingering, until she grows bored enough
To suck me back in through
those lips and past that
Tongue that forms my name
Then forgets it.
I go down at her request
until I am completely
Enveloped in the
warmness of her,
Flowing with her rhythm and
beating with her heart.
Then she notices that she is done.
I’m used up.
She exhales and
taps me and
flicks me and
I’m on the ground,
wishing there was more of me.
I walk slowly through the graveyard
Of my father’s expectation.
I glance at the old tombstones
Of the man he wished he was,
And I try to avoid the fresh mounds where
My failures are constantly being buried
To be memorialized in stone.
I am haunted by their ghosts,
The ghosts of these irrational
Miscarried dreams, buried
Without coffins or eulogies.
The pale grass is trampled
In a circular track from my
Constant walking, my constant
Search for a way out
Of my father’s cemetery.