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 Apr 2017 circus clown
This morning I awoke clutching your name
with such reckless devotion that it turned to dust,
each letter fell to the floor. I know where you went,
long before you vanished inside of your name,

long before the grave. You sank into your body
like a river, guided by the low light burning
on the horizon. I know how you found us:
the pipe is a beacon. The pipe is a lighthouse.

You wanted to know how to remove the emptiness
from yourself. We never understood it cannot be
removed. It is not a pulsing seed in the gut, or a peach pit
run into the mud. We weren't drug addicts, we said

we were scientists. We experimented each day.
Sent the smoke down into the deep mine of the chest
as though it were a rope with a hook at the end of it
to pull the emptiness back out. We partitioned ourselves
away to the dark piece by piece, we did not remove
the emptiness but further became it.

The mind of the addict is cunning enough
to convince the body it is not dying.
Houdini doesn't have **** on an addict,
he was able to convince everyone but himself
he had vanished. Addiction is the ethereal art
of forgetting that you are still here.

I know where you went, before the syringe perched
in your arm and whistled through the vein
like a steam engine, before the crack rock broke apart
in a blaze of light as though it were an egg hatching fire.

I know what it is to walk down an unlit street at midnight
and have a gun cocked in your mouth. I know what it is
to discover the gun shaking in your own hand.
The most dangerous neighborhood
is the one in my own head.

This is a game of masks.
A Rorschach test of the mind.
QUESTION: what do you see?
Anything I want.
This is the magic of perception.

The difference between an addict
and one who is drowning
is the one who is drowning knows it.
The addict will drink the sea until it becomes him.

Even now, five years sober and when I smell whiskey
from across the room my mouth still waters.
I have not fed my skin a blade for nearly a decade
for fear of what I might let out.
What sleeps must one day wake,
even when you sneak through your own life like a thief.

I having spent whole nights lying awake asking why
I made it and you didn't. I can still hear death pawing
at the outskirts of town, as you vanished inside
the needle in your arm and I swayed
from the edge of a bridge, neither one of us
was any more deserving of this life.

I feel ill to even think it, but I have to thank you,
some days your death is all that stands between me
and a drink. There were days I went as far
as to hold a bottle in my hand,
but couldn't bring myself to swallow
because your name was stuck in my throat.

There were weeks I couldn't walk two blocks
from my door without being asked
if I wanted some kush, some glass, some white,
some snow, some jack up, some jelly beans,
some dust, some rock, some good ****.

And each time I heard your voice ask me,
"how badly do you want this life?
you didn't deserve it then, but you got it,
so what are you willing to do, to keep it?"
Michael Lee
here's how it happens
the morning after
you reach into the drawer
where the your t-shirts live
to find it austere
you'll shrug because
you're still drunk
& you can't remember
when last it was
that you had something wet
or how long it's been
since you made the floorboards blush
or why the carpet is upset
who wouldn't be
the contents to the upended ashtray
strewn around the apartment
resemble the aftermath
of the smallest war
to ever take place in norfolk
some midnight thief
must've made off with the lighter
because it isn't in
any of your favorite spots
maybe you chucked it
along with a hundred other things
that make noise when they land
in the neighbors yard
you won't remember putting
the refrigerator's belongings
in the bathtub
or scrawling a buzzard
on the bedroom door
but then again who would
you'll pretend it's spring again
before putting on your winter coat
to go out front with a cigarette
in your mouth
you'll hope for a passing stranger
to *** a light from
or drag yourself to the corner
with couch cushion change
to buy a new lighter
and on your way
you won't bother looking back
this is just another day
on eggshells for no reason
another november
choking on birthday candles
on your way home
you step over beer cans
the kind you fell in love with
and wonder who
had the last laugh last night
or if anyone said a word at all
it might've been another
moment of clarity
it might have been some idiot savant
any adjective that feels like home
anything that keeps you thirsty
 Apr 2015 circus clown
 Apr 2015 circus clown
i cant find the words
right now to properly
express how I feel but
i'm getting lost in this
body, in the marks and
dimples turned to scars
and valleys and shadows
and the way i'm stretched
around muscle and fat I
can hardly remember that
first and foremost i   a  m a

(c) Brooke Otto 2015

writer's block.
i like that you make
me drive slow, that
you remind me to
take smaller steps,
that you do not hold
me like you're at all
worried i'll fall apart
in your grasp.
i like it when you
call me "sweetheart"
 Feb 2015 circus clown
the hydrangeas found your
face through the crack in the
sliding door, during the early
morning before our bodies
decided to sweat off the night
and the fan blew cool air up
the lilt of our shoulders
that rolled and pressed
like pistons--I forget what
we spoke about.

but i felt your skin beneath
my thighs and begged for just
one picture of you, like this
all day-old and dewy and beautiful
with the morning shining out of your
chest, aglow and gentle, just one picture
of you, like this,  just one picture of you

*like this
i found that picture today
of you being beautiful
with the dawn rising
up out of your skin.

(c) Brooke Otto 2015

this is for chris.
i think i will survive if i can wait a little more
i'll wait until
the last of you is walking
out the
the hours have been good to me
the miles
make it
that life can still be beautiful
without you being
it's when i press my lips to yours
that everything
and opens up a world with an intensity that
enough with the explosives
i don't want them
the back of you in front of me, i'll run to close the door
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