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I like to imagine
a long, scrolling will,
a grand apology, a currency admission
of guilt and loneliness and shame

but I know there will be none
of that, and I will stand up
and not laugh, and not accuse
or elicit gasps or applause or embarrassment.
Instead, I’ll tell the story
of the two shot guns sharing the closet
during hide and seek,
the way you told us they were toys
the way we nearly died from the excitement
the small lies and small hands you
didn’t think through in the bedroom closet
between the Christmas presents and the old shoes. 

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I am not a snake,
because I have these big cracked hands,
because I cannot shed my skin so quickly.
I am not the awkward amends
in a high school yearbook.
I am not a cop’s baton
or his nightmares. I am
not the poet asking what it all means.
I am not what it all means. 

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I.

because somebody didn’t write you love letters,
you wrote yourself love letters.
because no one tucked you into bed,
you kissed your fingers, pressed them to your head.
because flowers didn’t grow in your backyard,
you drew eden on the bones in your arms. 

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Figure I’ll die before I’ve stomped myself into dry dirt.
Figure the ocean will spit me back up
and swallow me again. Do I taste like sugar?
Like sweat, like stomach acid, empty spaces,
knives, copper, linen, song?
Figure a sunny day,
when my knees bend backward,
I will be a luggage-fit,
carry on.

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I am eating sand like an ostrich
sand between crooked teeth
in split lip ground in sand
in my nostrils inhale breathe in
small grains hundreds exhale.
Don’t exhale.

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We are shadows.
Stacking shades of grey,
Building shadows and
Mismatched scrambled jigsaw pieces and
Empty thank you cards
And “shut up” goodbyes.

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There’s a thud in that hurricane room,
then small feet fast on pavement.
Small steps across the huge street.
There are slinking neighbors,
so many hands.
Quick speech, small words,
no sirens.
There are night lights, roses,
small feet tip-toeing shapes in the backyard sand,
leftovers for dinner, and bruises.

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Not a story of the way my childhood
built me, staunch skyscraper,
braced for quake, graffiti eyes.
An architecture leaning forward,
and so much broken glass.

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The man who sits across from me
on the train into the city is thin. And his old hemmed pants
repel his thin legs,
as if they don’t want to be near him.
And his thin eyes are empty,
and the corners are afraid. His thin fingers drag
along his face and his fingertips press
between his grey eyebrows, and his shoes,
oil-stained suede, shuffle nervously
on the train’s floor.
He looks like
what giving up looks like.

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When the bigger men come
      and spit their chewing tobacco on
      our kitchen floors
      and grind and mash their teeth
      and speak in soft tones, make us
      move close to hear their ugly jokes

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