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Aug 2014 · 342
Dylan Baker Aug 2014
today i found the match that i pulled out of your bed
yesterday as we fell asleep together for the last night i think
tomorrow ill use it to burn this city to the ground.
Dylan Baker Jul 2014
You texted me this morning
and I know you didn't mean it to,
but that message made my heart,
and my lungs,
and my stomach
all sink to some new foreign place
down past my intestines somewhere.
Like they all slopped out on to the floor.

I was at work when I read it,
and I swear I saw your face
in every customer who walked through the door.
I wanted to reach out and shake you
like it would rattle some twisted wires back into place
but all I could seem to do was count them your change.

So tonight we'll scream over airwaves
two hundred miles apart,
and try to make amends.
You'll tell me you need your freedom
and I'll try to convince you
that this life we've created in the last three and a half years,
has been worth more than broken down cars
and spilled beer.

Like how I need you more than the houses we've made into homes,
more than the three dollar tips from condescending customers
so I can get a drink at the end of the night,
more than lost best friends turned room mates and back again.

We'll take it slow from here
try to rebuild and repair,
but please tell me is a burning house worth saving
after the paint has melted away
and rooms become blackened by smoke,
what about after the rafters fall in?
Jul 2014 · 324
the torch
Dylan Baker Jul 2014
another restless night west of the city
with a fire still burning nearby
this time an apartment complex
the blaze started by a child
only eight years old.

the smoke drifts across the river
thick and yellow and enveloping
slowly covering the landscape
the sweet rancid stench
of everything burning at once.

the third fire in under a year
but that's just the way it goes
sometimes it takes a torch
to make you realize what you've got
to remember who you are.
Mar 2014 · 539
A Light in the Attic
Dylan Baker Mar 2014
There is a light in the attic
that has been on for two days,
shining dim through mouse tunnels
and A frames,
through insulation,
and hidden secrets.

There is a light in the attic
that has been on for three days,
and another house burned down
last week,
about a block from here
on the west side.

There is a light in the attic
that has been on for four days.
An incandescent bulb
with the filament intact and glowing,
and it only takes one spark,
to create a fire.

There is a light in the attic
that has been on for five days.
In that hidden room,
under the crumbling linoleum
we found pages from a newspaper
dated January 4, 1950.

There is a light in the attic
that has been on for six days,
and an entire world left to explore.
Who knows what else is hidden there,
under insulation,
under floorboards,
and in cubbyholes.

There is a light in the attic
that has been on for seven days,
and I don't know
if it will ever burn out.
Feb 2014 · 431
The Great Journey
Dylan Baker Feb 2014
I remember the day you taped plastic
over all of the windows in our new home.
You said, "We'll be warmer this way,"
but with you I was never cold.

I remember then looking through them,
the world glowing white
in an opalescent haze,
and the snow slowly falling.

This was the same year the water rose so high
that we could no longer see the riverbank.
I remember nights dreaming of being washed away
in that great raging river.

I remember the drive to Grand Haven.
Losing our minds in the back seat,
while our friends expanded theirs
to Psilocybin.

I remember the Great Journey,
the stairs,
the sand,
the sky,
the mighty rolling waves.

I remember an orange
dropped to the ground,
and a kiss
among old friends.

I remember the fall we moved
into this new home,
and how by winter we had gorged ourselves
on cold days and sunsets.

I remember the blankets we hung
to help keep the warm in,
to keep out the light.

I remember the heavy red wool
a backdrop to our love,
dancing with the specks of dust
through pinholes of light.
Feb 2014 · 287
Dylan Baker Feb 2014
I used to kiss "I love you" against your eyelids
every night until you fell asleep,
but still we knew
there were gray spaces.
Just like I know
that if you stare at something long enough
it begins to fade from view,
like the picture lost to static
on the T.V. screen in our first apartment.
And I think now
it's more than just the bills
that are overdue.
It's the sporadic heat of the furnace
ticking into life for a few seconds
before shutting down again.
It's the lukewarm hum
of a broken refrigerator
and the stench of rot.
It's the broken electrical sockets,
the drafty windows,
the water damage,
but more than anything else,
it's the way you still look at me
like I'm the only one in the room.
Even with everything we've been through.
Sep 2013 · 1.5k
Suspended Animation
Dylan Baker Sep 2013
The house was a familiar sight, wood floors dingy and worn, paint chipped and peeling from the walls, couches stained and torn. We had met here almost a year ago, between sweat soaked bodies and empty bottles, faces brimming with laughter. But now we were drifting away. You told me of a place on the western coast of Oregon where the land juts out in cliffs before the ocean and how you dreamed of flying from those cliffs one day. “Let’s get lost,” you said to me, through a haze of smoke and *****, as you lifted your drink to your lips. You had joked about running away before, but this time was different, this time you had nothing left to lose.
          The next morning we woke with the sun and packed the car. Blankets, clothes, and the stuffed dog you’d slept nearly every night with since you were six. You had named him Icarus the day your father left, and you threw him deep into the woods, thinking if you didn’t deserve a father, neither did he. He stayed there for two weeks buried from the rain, in mud and leaves. When you finally could take the loneliness no longer you went out to find him. It took you an hour and a half and when you finally held him you vowed to never leave his side again.
          We set out from the Deschutes Valley and I drove towards Tillamook as you slept beside me in the passenger seat wrapped up tight in the Serape you found in the attic the day you moved away. It was musty and worn but it smelled like home. The sun shone warm through the windshield and refracted in spectrums through the chips and cracks. The trees were getting their summer foliage, dark brown limbs hidden now by bursts of green. I turned on the cruise control and placed my hand on your head as you slept. The forest flew by around us, its trees a permeable membrane to the world contained within. As you rested I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts were being born inside your dreams.
          For four hours we flew, treading concrete, in and out of lanes, between cars and trailers, avoiding the animals making their way west. The smell of exhaust poured in through the open windows and mixed with cigarette smoke. The drone of engines gave way to the rushing of wind and four lanes became two. We were surrounded by fields of rock and the road was carved into the jagged earth. Here cement finally turned to dirt and I could see the cliffs you had told me of falling into the sea.
          The next day we found the beach and lost ourselves there between the waves and the crisp ocean breeze. Memories of a past life scattered like glass along the shore. The birds flew overhead and played games with us; one diving in close, turning at the last second to avoid the collision, then soaring high back around to see if the others dared to follow. We walked the border of sea and earth, ankle deep in saltwater and sand, and I held your hand as you confided in me every inch of you.
          You told me what it was like for you growing up, how your father had left, and how your mother worked herself past breaking to provide for you and your brother. Your father was a hardened man. He had worked in steel mills his entire life and had met your mother one spring on vacation in Oakridge. They were married the following fall and one year later you and your brother were born. You told me that he took to drinking and was let go from his job at the mill, and that he turned with violence to your mother when he couldn’t find work. He walked out on your family the day before your seventh birthday, got in his truck and never looked back. Five months later he turned up dead, he had passed out drunk at the wheel and crashed it head first into the old oak tree at the tail end of town.
          That night we slept in the sand and grass in the lee of a dune reaching its hands toward heaven. It cradled us as I cradled you in my arms. I drifted off to the sound of eternity in my head, to the vast planes of emptiness that come just before sleep. That night I dreamt for the first time in weeks.

         I was the captain of a sinking ship. I was standing at the helm, sails full, watching my crew slowly drown, and every time you would turn away from me in the night, another wave would come and break over the bow. One by one my men drowned and I watched as the waves came to take my vessel under. Yet there I stood, steadfast at the wheel, unmoved by the power of the sea, awaiting my turn to be engulfed by the endless green.

          When at last I woke you were gone, off walking where the sky meets the land, and I went out in search of you. When I found you there sitting amidst a mess of driftwood, you were distant, changed, it was almost as if you were someone else entirely. The night had taken a part of you and replaced it with a longing that I had never seen in you before. You told me you had dreamt last night of the place where you grew up.

         "I was there with my mother and my brother, running out to feed the cows, our dogs in tow. I looked up, distracted, and the sky glowed red like the fires of Hell. I walked the rest of the way to the barn and watched as the horses went mad, their blood boiling, racing through the pasture and sprinting headlong through the fence. My father stood off in the distance covered in blood, chopping wood and stacking it on the woodpile. The trees were set ablaze and my entire world began to burn."

          I looked you in the eyes and I could see the smoke lingering still. You sat there for hours in a state of suspended animation, staring blindly into the deep green ocean. I sat by your side the entire time and watched the tide creep closer and closer, as if it were reaching out to drag you into its longing depths. I watched ships sail by on the horizon destined for far off ports you once dreamed of seeing. And there you were, lost in the mazes of your mind, haunted, tortured by the visions you had seen.

                                                                ­                     *

          I sit here years later in the house where we first met. I have repainted, swept and cleaned these floors, mended the furniture. It is no longer squalid and unkempt, but the faces that come and go are the same. There are still bottles shared on occasion and the laughter has not faded, but something in you has. A piece of you died that day at the beach, and you buried it there in the sand between the tides. To this day you will not speak of what happened there and I do not blame you. There are some things we must keep locked deep within ourselves.
Jul 2013 · 498
The Pieces Lost
Dylan Baker Jul 2013
This city has torn me to pieces
and scattered the unwanted bits
through these cobblestone streets.
Through 3 a.m. deserted corridors
and starless skies,
through the litter and muck
along the banks of its timeless raging river.

A haunting memory
is left behind a locked bathroom door
in a new friends apartment on Lyon St.
across from the empty museum.
The rumors of attempted suicide
still linger in the air.

The shell of a young man
is found in the basement
of a crumbling house on Veto St.
Swept beneath the rug
under a pile of beer bottles
and empty fifths.

A scarred outer layer of skin
is found in the drain
of a ***** clawfoot bathtub,
in a dark studio apartment
on the corner of Douglas and National.
Along with a well read copy
of Bukowski’s Women
and a bowl of maggot infested rice.

A heart,
freezer burned and half thawed,
is found on the counter
in a split level apartment
on Lydia St.,
just before the hill.

As for the rest of me,
that I’ll leave for us to find.
Maybe somewhere on the back roads
from there to here,
in the hazy twilight
fit for discovery.
Jul 2013 · 512
To Come Clean.
Dylan Baker Jul 2013
You envelop me like the smell before rain.
Like the sweet clean air,
that drifts in pockets through the breeze.
And like the low steady rumble of thunder,
I want to be whole for you.

So I’ve been throwing my broken bits to the birds
hoping that they’ll be washed away in the first thaw.
I’ve been screaming my fears into the ocean
like some vacant lot,
and waiting for answers like bottles
to drift in with the tides.

There were nights
I would tear razorblades across my skin
and watch the blood pour from my mouth,
but tonight I am setting my scars to the wind,
like sails,
and I pray that they will carry me home to you.

You are wherever I have always been,
where I am now,
and where I dream of being tomorrow.
So there is no shame then,
when I lay myself to rest
in your palms.

There are moments I reach out to you,
to put my hands on your skin,
to feel your warm soft touch,
pulsing through me like morphine.

So right here and now,
let me come clean before you.
Let me rinse myself of my conclusions,
and rid you of my past.
You know there were times I wanted to die.
But my days are no longer numbered,
and you know now my wounds,
they have been healed.

Do you remember the night you brought me home?
Well the story is written out here on my arms,
every scar the first letter of your name,
and together they now spell the word “alive.”

— The End —