Elegy for the Four Chambers of My Heart
My friend John says the poetry of earth is never read. So recently
I make a habit of hiking. I wonder if my brother ever saw this rock.
If a rock can be sad then this rock is sad. It frowns in its strata.
I convince John to sit on my porch. We set dandelions on fire
just to warm our hands, watch them fall like spent matches.
My dentist is the closest
thing I ever had
to a father. I can’t call him
dad. I call him David.
Our relationship is built
on the fact that I have
a cavity and insurance.
On my birthday, I get a form
email from David’s office.
When I reply, thanks dad,
I get no response.
I try every day
not to make a metaphor
of every ugly-beautiful thing.
Those two blue birds
blue-birding into dusk
are just jays — not my
I blink in Morse code
when passing by strangers,
use jazz hands to let them know
I feel cosmically alone.
Sometimes, from the back
of an empty, bellowing bus,
I gossip to the driver, tell him
things I don’t tell my therapist.
I try every day to make this
poem just a little bit untrue: I grew
four inches this summer.
My immediate family is nearing
extinction. Bob Ross is my uncle.
I don’t know how to keep
living anymore. I made
up two of those four facts.
Once, I shot my friend’s bow
and arrow straight into
the sun, hoping it’d have
an answer for me. I’m still
laughing at every joke I hear
hoping the punchline
ends in impalement.
Every poem I write is a sonnet
in a trench coat. Sometimes three
sonnets sitting on each other’s shoulders,
each at war or in love with a future
where I can be happy. I’m always looking
for a mirror with a family inside it.
If a mirror breaks, which shard is the family?
There are so many ways to hold yourself
hostage. I’m still learning to love my captor.
about the author