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You and I,
We've tried to be good.
The self flagellation we took part in
Has left whip marks on us
That will betray
Our forced smiles and forked tongues.
We will be better
This time.
Show me agony, yours, and I will show you mine.
Meanwhile we will make do
Until the pain is gone,
Until breath can come
Without gnashing and gasping.
Meanwhile we will trudge the canyons,
Kick against the snakes that lap at our heels.
Meanwhile we'll lie in the harsh landscape
And see, overhead, the geese we read about
A dozen Summers ago;
Watch them as they continue on.
Watch as they disappear over the horizon.
Watch as metaphor becomes reality.
Whoever you are now, whatever time has turned you into,
Let the canyon buckle beneath your feat.
Lay the whip down
And claim your place
In your chosen family of things.
I pass the turn off to the the primary schools I went to,
Where I first tasted blood
And had my defamed body
Beaten by children
Who refused to understand
And I want to turn in,
Not go on.

I pass the public library
I languished long hours in,
Studying the things
I could not afford
And would not be afforded to me.
Where I met my first adult friend,
A fifty year old man
Who checked out restricted titles for me
On his own card
And I wanted to turn in,
And not go on.

I pass the home of a dear friend,
Two dear friends,
Three dear friends
Who brought me comfort with
Their words and their bodies
When the latter failed.
I still crave the simplicity
Of agony
That could be banished with
A well-timed kiss.
As if Joy Division would
Always be on the radio
In the background.
As if tea
Made up for
A youth spent on the edges
Of worlds I would have
Given everything to be
Fully included in.
I wanted to turn in,
And not go on
But those houses are void.

I park
Outside of my father's house.
I stare it down
As if the front lawn is no man's land.
The cancer is back.
The college is paid.
The world has moved on
Within me, without me.

The greatest comfort,
An even greater shame.
Guilt that was never mine
Shackled to my joints,
Wearing thin in the places
Once impenetrable.


The cancer is back.
The cancer is back.
The cancer is back.
The cancer is back.
The cancer is back.
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