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pirate with a fear of drowning,
bard with a fear of loving,
but i lashed myself to the mast anyway,
and sang until my voice gave out

and that’s the same kind of
fear, in a way,
so close to giving in to the sweet
call of the unknown,
wondering if the loose threads in the
well-worn sleeves of your sweater will
finally unravel if i stray too far
from where i’ve been holding on

i won’t dash my ship upon the
rocks this time, will stay out
past the breakers and squint up at
where i imagine you to be when the
bright yellow from that lonely lighthouse
bathes my sins in gold

maybe i’ll even walk away
just about unscathed, too,
promises that still echo across the
empty stage of my heart,
eagerly awaiting when you’ll be able
to, willing to, understand this tongue

and there’s fear in that, too
under all that love, it’s just fear,
and this shouldn’t come as a surprise

and maybe this one isn’t for you,
but it’s certainly about you,
just the same
Boaz Priestly Mar 23
on the last bus of a
four transfer trek,
watching as the mountain,
covered in snow under all
that blue, blue, sky,
grows larger before me

but i’m not going home
no, i’m going to drink
and make merry with that
wild sea captain i fell in
love with as a younger man

and there’s not quite enough
liquid courage thrumming through
my veins and warming that
darkest pit that lurks in my stomach
to admit i never fell out of that love

though, if i lean a little closer
on that cracked leather armchair,
or if our hands brush when
playing best two out of three
with a board game, then no one
else needs to know

and when that wild sea captain
of mine declares himself a broken man,
i will not argue, because that’s
not my place

nor will i presume that this
is a fairy tale and i can somehow
love those jagged edges back together,
or that this is something to be fixed at all

and because this is no fairy tale,
since no greater force compels me,
i can be a constant of my own free will,
bringing with me baked goods and
loud laughs over cheap beers

i can love that sea captain,
not in spite of,
but because of,
those jagged edges
Boaz Priestly Mar 11
the song on the radio
makes you think of
yet another middle school
dance you didn’t want to
be at

but your mother had
already given you the four
dollars for the door fee, and
wouldn’t be back to
get you for another few hours

and it’s dark in the gym,
atmosphere that feels suffocating
and stagnant to you sporadically cut
through by bright winking lights

the little black dress with the
pink band around the middle is
accentuating all the wrong parts
of your body, and you long for
oversized hoodie, sneakers, and jeans

and the only boy you want to
dance with, doesn’t want to
dance with you

still don’t know if you want to
be 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 him
or 𝘣𝘦  him,

still won’t know, over a decade later,
thought this no longer keeps you up at night

but you want his hands on
your hips, think and hope and pray
that this simple gesture could
ground you in girlhood

and this boy, with his tawny hair
and kind eyes, doesn’t know that
you’re a boy, too

and neither do you, right then
all you do know is that you’re a
girl who feels wrong in her skin,
and even worse in that
little black dress with the pink
band around the middle

and the boy you want to
dance with, doesn’t want to
dance with you
Boaz Priestly Feb 29
I. “i’ll let you know
when i get home,”
i say into the space between
us as the only man i’ve
ever truly loved embraces me
like i’m something, someone
to be cherished

i turn and wave one
last time before the trees block
the view of the little cabin,
then i take four buses back to
my empty apartment and
ache just that much more

II. we go out, or i come
over, and when you drive me
back home you wait until
i’m inside before driving away

even when i fumble with
my keys, your love is
still patient with me

III. “text me when you
get home,” i say,
and you do every time

even if you forget once
or twice, you apologize
twice as much, and i
love you all the
more for that

IV. i cry into the
sink full of dishes that
i’m washing my way through,
hands too soapy to wipe away
the tears

but i grab a threadbare dishtowel
to see what you’ve got to say,
when my phone goes off

V. and i’ll dry my hands,
and my tears,
to text you back:
‘i love you, too’
eating cold pad thai
from the carton,
breakfast lunch and dinner,
slouching in threadbare
pajama pants

sitting in the shower
with no water running,
alternating between laughing
helplessly, and crying just
the same

i’ll bite down on my
knuckles hard enough
to bruise, the tender
spots where my fingers bend,
muffled and muzzled this grief

playing pallbearer at my
own funeral, equally haunted
and haunting

i am nothing but a ghost,
rebounding off the walls
of this long since emptied house

and you’re somewhere
i can’t reach quite yet,
and i don’t have your number,
but you still have mine

so give me a ring sometime,
and i’ll pretend you’re close enough
to twine our fingers together
just one more time
how strange it is,
my friend,
to age and grow older
without you by my side

bending down to pull
up my socks this morning,
and my *** left shoulder
cracks in a way that didn’t
hurt then, but promised
to later

my left knee also cracks
when i go up stairs now,
and even though you can’t
tell right now, because i went
and shaved my head,
i’m starting to gray at the temples

i feel simultaneously the
oldest, and the youngest,
that i’ve ever been

on that day i woke up
and you had been gone for
sixteen years, it felt like that
first time i’d fallen and landed
on my back and for a terrifying
few seconds, i couldn’t breathe

i haven’t been able to
take a full breath
since the last time i saw you
Boaz Priestly Jan 31
surprised to find that
the blood staining my
teeth belongs to me,
this time

eat your heart out
and all that,
i suppose

but when i served
that heart to you,
having carved it out
of my already scarred chest
with the knife that you
had already left in my back

well, you just stuck
up your nose and said
it still wasn’t enough,
i still wasn’t enough

were the potatoes i
served as a side over cooked?
was the dessert too bitter?
did the sobs i muffled into
the crook of my arm turn
your stomach?

did the meal turn
to ash in your mouth?
i certainly hope it did

you were my love,
my muse,
my five year plan,
i wanted to ******* marry you!

naive of me, huh?
to think someone so dissatisfied
and unhappy with themselves
could ever love me back
in the way i know i deserve

all you’ve ever known
how to do is use someone up
and then spit them back out

you left me in
worse shape than i was found,
bitter and jagged,
hollowed out and wary

your name leaves a
bad taste in my mouth
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