We Go

You were the sound of blue flame hurled from two outstretched palms,
the holy ha do ken of Saturday morning Streetfighter 2 match ups.
You were the up, down, up, down, b, a, start cheat code that threw pixelated flaming fists
and made us all invincible.

You were the face reflected in a bicycle’s chrome handlebars ,
circling the street on two spinning wheels polished and
singing in the clink clink choir of new spokey dokeys.

You were the shock of red in the long shadow of a wheely bin standing in for wickets,
cast in the holy orange light of 10,000 suns setting
on the last overs of cul de sac cricket matches.

And now
you are a face I see in old home movies,
a ghost in the machinery of memory,
and a space in the air that breathed you back in.

And I stood there in the graveyard years later,
waiting to send someone else back to the earth,
my eyes full of mortgage and rust,
the only part of me worth writing poems about perched on my hip,
all thumb suck and perfect id
and I couldn’t remember where in the ground we put you.

What I remembered
was my 14 year old fist
pounding the earth
trying to find some way to say sorry for being the one
who gets to stay.

When your blood turned against you,
declaring a strange war in your bones,
I imagined myself courageous and miracle thumbed
standing at the life support machines
looking for the controller to punch out up, down, up, down, b, a, start
and make you
invincible again.

But I stayed away
afraid of seeing the space you were about to leave behind.

This is why I fear death,
This is why I write these dumb death poems,
I am afraid that one day, my friends will come to find my bones,
To bring me back in their minds for a final round Streetfighter  rematch
and the place where the ground took me back will be forgotten too.

And I will be just another ghost in the machine.
Another face in home movies.
And a line in someone’s dumb poem.

My friend,

I am sorry for all of this.

You are missed.

Sorry Sylvia (Plath)


Sitting at the state library,
that great bunker for truant nerds
and the elderly.

At the next table
in between text messages,
status updates
and instagram likes
a table of private school uniforms
are preparing one more essay on Sylvia Plath.

Dutifully copying out details of
the dissected wreckage of her life,
finding among the bones and coffin splinters,
the pretence of our knowing,
the hermeneutics of the blood,
the black shoe,
and the gas oven hiss.
And all of this is done for ticks in boxes,
for ‘well dones’,
and ‘good to see you did your research’,
and dumb grades.

Could you imagine this Sylvia?
That this is what we would do to you?

That high school teachers
would keep dragging you out of the ground,
and laying your bones out for inspection,
looking for symptom,
and signifier,
pretending like we could ever know
what you looked like on the inside of your skin.

We are the boot in the face.
We are fat seals barking commands,
dumb throated and dead.

And then one of them reads aloud to the others:

At twenty I tried to die
and get back, back, back to you.

And they fall quiet.
And the spine of this poem breaks.

These young Molotov bomb minds,
with their angry lash,
their razors,
and their suicide plunge poems
they are made knowing you.
They don’t need to see your bones
to know what you knew.

They know the brutal tyranny of skin.
They know the bite and swallow of the mirror.

And though we try to drown it out of them
raising old women in their place,
they know you.

In their bones,
they know you.

-with acknowledgement that this poem directly incorporates certain lines and metaphors directly from Plath’s work