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Now and then, words fail me.
I can't find the right ones,
I stutter and mumble.
Expression is lost to me.

Yet late at night
I can communicate perfectly,
armed with nothing more
than a pair of headlights
and their high beam counterparts.

"Go ahead," I think to myself.
Ka-chk ka-chk ka-chk.
"Make your left turn, friend."
In return they then light up my little smile
with a quick and brilliant "thanks."
Radiant slats of gold
on that ageless, painted wall of old.
The paper told me to go,
so I left not too long ago.
Tales of sadnesses untold
are the source of all this bitter cold.
I buried all that I know
under her heavy blanket of snow.
They say that she broke the mold
when they cast her into the fold.
Now all that I've got to show
for these sudden thirty years in tow,
is a handful of memories I hold.
Everything else has long been sold.
Something, somethings, some things grow.
What they are, I just don't know.
The bed just won't do.
The couch ain't up to *****.
The desk is too wobbly.
The coffee table doesn't look too tough.
The kitchen counter's already a mess.
The windowsill simply ain't enough.
(Though I'd love to press you against the glass,
and really show off your stuff.)
The staircase is a bit too creaky.
The candles in the foyer are already snuffed.
The living room floor feels perfect though,
since we're already here and I like it off the cuff.
Baby, I wanna be buried
in your tight clutch.
I wanna see God
in the midst of your love.

Baby, I wanna hear you
singing my name.
I wanna watch the blood course
through your pulsing veins.
Rusted bolts don't lie.
They either break free,
or snap entirely.

Ratchets and wrenches don't cry,
they only serve their purpose
or in the process they die.

I understand these
fundamentalities.

It's the vast
mystique of emotion
that I cannot grasp.

All is nails.
I'm always getting hammered.
The holy grail
is a heart that doesn't matter.

I can fix a mast
in the midst of an ocean,
it offers no sass.

Yet a sentimental forest of trees
feels entirely foreign to me.
Don't talk to me about feeling.
Talk to me about doing.
We were a trio.
Gone together,
mentally alone.

90's alternative had been playing for maybe
three-quarters of an hour, and at this point
we were all mostly toasted.
A shot of beer a minute.

Talking ****, shuffling the deck.

Nick laughed, Luke mocked.
I cheered them both on.
In that moment we all lived in the golden light
of youthful ignorance and concrete friendship
that can only be fully grasped by a drunken trio of guys
in their mid-twenties at 2:00 AM on an idle Thursday night.

We all cracked fresh cold ones and lit up fresh cigs,
and I raised the burning tobacco in a toast:
"To friendship!"

Luke matched my pose, left arm outstretched.
We caught each other's eyes, and without missing a beat
his right hand plunged the cherry into his left forearm.
I looked down and saw myself doing the same,
yet felt no pain. We stayed that way until our embers died,
and relit the remaining smoke off of a shared flame.
Nick never matched our level of commitment,
I doubt he even bears a scar these days.
My scar still itches from time to time.
I wonder if Lukes does, too.

Eventually
I started seeing tunnels
and soon, gravity took me.
Horizontality was my fate.
I was the first to fall,
the first to succumb to gratuitous consumption.

...

Birds chirping, deafening in the late morning.
The angry sun cast slotted beams
through the still-lingering twines
of cigarette smoke from the night before.
I watched it slowly twirl and stir through slitted eyelids.
My eyes hurt, and my neck creaked as I looked around.
Nick passed out beside me, I figured Luke got the top bunk.
In the daylight I could always see the apartment for what
it really was.
An escape.
One room, bunk beds, and abject emotional destitution.
I rolled over on to the floor and steadied myself with
closed eyes and a palm planted on the ***** carpets.
My phone was on the desk in the corner, I grabbed it
and headed towards the bathroom.

**** cascaded, and through the open bathroom window
I could hear it echo off of the buildings lining New Street.
My hand floated up to the back of my head
and picked at something. Something hardened.
There was a thick layer of something
on the back of my scalp,
down the back of my neck.
It felt like wax.
We were burning a candle last night.
They must've dumped it on me
since I was the first to fall asleep.
I quit picking when I was struck by a sharp pain in my arm,
my left forearm.
A bit of my hair had probed an open wound,
a round burn mark.
I sat down on the flor and remembered for a bit.

My phone turned on with a melodic series of beeps,
it had been awhile since I turned it on.

One new voicemail.

I dialed the number 1 while picking wax from my hair,
put my passcode in,
and listened.

Mom called me last night, she was crying.
I was used to that sound at this point.
"Otis wont get up, I think he's dying Justin."
A brief pause.
"Please come home."






I'm sorry Otis. I loved you.
More than a dog, you were a canine brother.
Raised alongside me.
Raised by the same parents.

I didn't come home,
at least,
not then.
Seven years.

I still think about that night,
That morning.
That mourning.

My scar itches.
Been here before,
done this a thousand times.
Yet still I find
something new.
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