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bobby burns Apr 2017
take one

gotta make sure the lighting is just right
that silken glow perfect for when the other
first graders take off your dress for you
because dress-up is one thing, but this, another

take two

adjust the camera angle, you wouldn't want
to show your tummy. **** that gut, boy!
no streetwear allowed in the public pool;
you can't keep your hoodie on forever

take three

i cast coal and cherry juice over myself because i'm scared
scared to show it all for what it is on camera but the truth is,
i was clueless, she was strong, and what's the harm in a little
******* when she'll bruise and asphyxiate you otherwise

take four

i knew this time, but i liked that way her teeth raked over
my bottom lip, it satisfied that near-catholic compulsion
i had to atone, to hurt myself to better myself, it was sweet
the sweetest bloodwine my adolescent pre-**** self would ever have

take five

my god i deserved you. we deserved each other. until, of course,
the stones you used to give me -- agate, citrine -- landed on my
dusted cheekbones, in the middle of love, sometimes because your nose was stuffy and you felt you couldn't breathe and it was cathartic to take out your frustration on objects (hello, hi, i am not one)

take six

and the truth is, i'm too tired to write a take six, and i've long abandoned this metaphor, and take six will be a poem of its own, in ways, take six is my teenage finale, my rite of passage, my understanding of myself as a vessel of men's aggression
and far too few sunsets have passed for me to write it, anyways, and far too few footsteps over the land below the car where i was *****, and far too little writing on how this has affected me, my psyche, my masculinity, any sense or semblance of self outside of victim, and ******* i'm not ready i'm just not ready so don't push me with this take six, business, alright?

getting there
bobby burns Apr 2017
i remember someone on this site a long time ago.
they would write unrelenting epic poems that
always made my fingertips tingle in that way
they do when you're surprised art made you
feel something again, you know?

i arrive back here tonight because i've been
doing a whole lotta feeling and far too little art
and i've stopped letting it surprise me.

i keep oversharing when people ask, "how are you?"

i keep wondering who i'm supposed to be at this point on this long path of becoming. i don't know, i've never liked the phrasing but it resounds so cleverly from forebrain to nervous system it's uncanny and unavoidable and ineffable. who am i am i am i am i am i ...

i want to make a map,
a cartography of memory,
charting the granite and
soil, marrow and moss,
river foam, abusers,
flower gardens, wild blackberries --
the purple dabbed away from those
soft parts that blackberries might stain

to wash deep berry blood off
in the public pool bathroom
where she first made you a novelty

to scrape darker
from under his fingernails
with bark from the tree she
made you hide behind

the same park you grew up in

a spot you always caught the sunset
a spot he caught you and the sun seemed always then to set

still haven't gone back

it's time to make a map
bobby burns Mar 2016
upstairs and downstairs, like a frazzled owl character in my third-grade reader
in the doorway of my 200-level on sub-Sahara where we talk only of Nigeria
holding the elevator for my superior in the lobby of a too-tall edifice to man

a college student.
an ABD.

backstage at your high school graduation ceremony, your mortarboard won't stay on your head
in a food court where your mother doesn't get it when you say you can't wear pants anymore, or get your bimonthly haircut
when you're skirting the poverty line after your family business was sued but your FAFSA says parent #1 earns six figures


the female body as a threshold between worlds, channel betwixt boundaries
Schrodinger's cat simultaneously in separation and marginal phases according to van Gennep
divorce papers signed but not sent, enclosed in manila at the bottom of a cherrywood desk

a line without points.
on liminality
bobby burns Feb 2016
capitals irk me.
parentheses are comfortable, like my love embraces me, like i slide letters into envelopes, or don't, rather.
uneven lines and fragmented line endings feel more accurate,
real, everything that is not posed or
staged, everything that keeps you
hanging on to the last syllabic
on methods.
bobby burns May 2015
n. A homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were.

insatiability makes its burrow
in my gall bladder,

wringing bile from the *****,
craving toxins to purge.

i thirst for sweet lexical gaps,
holes in patterns,

dots that don't make shapes
but still gladly connect

n. The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees

loveliest in the distinction
it is only komorebi

once filtered, green soul
bleeding through
bobby burns May 2015
writing is my ******* bane.

jeweled paws of inspiration
dangle that carrot to keep me running.

wring out the baby with the gray matter,
spool it like spaghetti, slowly get fatter.

i was under the distinct impression
that this habit was too large a vent

until i left it somewhere in July
between the Yuba and a car ride

and never quite calmed down

it's my solace, my oak-tree,
haven in the hellishness,
clarity to ugliness,
Gilead balm,

should it
take such tolls--
to push too hard
is to turn a deaf ear

my ear ain't so sharp
and my brunt is still strong
bobby burns Mar 2015
buckeye flour,

your only criticism is that i split infinitives and spit bitters.
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