Relapse implies one stops in the first place. Can one be addicted to stopping? Obsessed with finding things to plug the leaky hole in their heart and soul? Or does addiction mean sick, unwell? Does it mean one’s actions are making them worse off than they were before, but they’re in a vicious cycle to solve all the problems? Addiction means circular reasoning. It postulates that making the outsides match the insides fixes everything.
Sneakers swish and squeak on the floor as he walks, knees bending only slightly, jean padded thighs grinding, hips sustaining a straight, square posture. Chest expands from the hunched over Back and returns in a slurry rattle similar to an attacked cymbal; Twitching, Fingers match their rhythm.
Tongue licks the teeth and sucks on the calcium before dampening pillow-like Lips. Once. Twice. Eventually every calculated stride. Cheeks stretch and smile, first goofily and then with a sober tinge. Eyes dart side to side to take in their surroundings.
All the colors and shapes are new, and therefore, painfully bright and visceral. Light burns Eyes to a crisp, glossy like a hot bubble in a pot of clam chowder. Blinking and flushing only worsen it. Saliva trickles down Throat in an attempt to quell it. Fingers twitch again: Middles dive like dolphins, Indexes and Rings frame them like waves, and Outliers curl in to pierce moisture-deprived palms.
They stop, and Shoulder heaves itself into the drywall. Fingers cling to the bumps on the wall and trace themselves a path to smooth navy metal, over a number plate. Tongue licks the teeth and smiles again. Cheeks emulate a clown or church greeter.
Fingers worry over the polyester polo and khakis; Hands jam themselves into the pockets to smooth what’s been smoothed the minute before. Feet shuffle and screech against the ground, smearing it with the unruly shoes.
This scene is made eponymous by its star. Nothing is right. Nothing is his. This fact is what our story is built upon.
Symphony (a series of poems on the same subjects)
These poems detail the story of a relationship between a boy and a man.
On the doorstep of
my tall red building is
A boy. He likes
Bread is good,
Bread is soft and
fluffy and good. He likes
bread very much.
Whenever I go out to the
supermarket, I buy bread. I’m not sure if the
bread is for me or the boy. I try to believe it’s for both of us, so we
sit on the dry, dusty steps that lead up to my tall red building, and we eat the
porous, flaky bread with flour-dusted crust.
Crumbs build up in mounds upon the corners of the boy’s
Mouth, his hair bunched up balls that
fold against each other and grow like
moss on his head and over his
neck, dark brown eyes
concaved on themselves, crowded by a wide
relatively thin lips,
all of which have been dipped in milk chocolate before he was born.
He’s a beautiful boy. A beautiful boy who
likes bread very much. Bread and milk. Because everyone knows
bread is best with milk.
The boy doesn’t wear his
milk like others do. His face is clean shaven; his tongue is
where he wears it, white and dimpled, wet.
I wish the boy would come inside
my house when he finishes the bread. It’s
cold outside, and children should be kept warm as well as
they are fed. He would not wear the
hard-shelled coat I bought him from the coat store, nor the
lice-purged fleece jacket my mother sent me from when I
was a boy. He only likes bread. Nothing
The boy tells me the world is
sepia, a caramelized haze. He tells me the world is sepia, but
I am in the highest definition of color, every one of my features etched in
stone. He tells me the ground feels like nothing, but
I feel like fuzzy peaches. He tells me my hands are cracked and dry,
my shirt is soft, my eyes are sharp.
The boy tells me sometimes he wants to
dash his eyes out and cry. I tell him he can cry plenty and still
see. This moment is when the boy’s
undashed eyes leak developer fluid and his sobs delay like a timer.
The boy tells me I can hold his
hand if I promise not to
I tell the boy the world is
processed like cheese and melts whenever I touch it. His hand is solid when
I take it, though, the sleeve of his shirt
murky like mop water, swirly denim.
I tell the boy the steps
of my tall, red building weren’t made
for him. I tell him he can
come inside if he’d like.
I tell the boy I
would like for him to come
inside. My house is
The boy talks in
tongues, and he tells me he’d like to
cut it out and give it to someone more
deserving of speech and
fluffy, soft bread.
I tell him that his voice is
soft and fluffier than any bread I’ve ever tasted,
devoid of that crust that insists on caging the softness. I tell him he is
soft and fluffy and good like bread, and I am the
deli meat that can sit beside him on the steps of my tall, red building until he’s able to
stand and come inside.
Tankas (a Japanese art form)
who watches for the small boy
on the steps of the tall red
building? who but me?
he’s not hungry or sad;
his heart beats emptily.
unwrap your hair &
spit it out into the sun
to make Him happy.
make it bounce bounce bounce like a
big, blue, bimbling, basketball.
Brother says the world
is pickle. That if I try to
chew or swallow I'll get
eaten. Brother has some
pointed holes in his palm
from where pickle tried to
eat him. Sister pulled him
out and got eaten herself.
Brother tells me over
that pickles are good,
if I soak them long in
kool-aid they won’t
break the enamel so fast,
but even that won’t stop
pickle from eating me, so
it’s safer to not try to eat
pickle at all. That’s what he
did wrong: dipped it in tropical
punch and followed the instructions
on the packet to destruction. Pickle
didn’t die because it wasn’t sweet enough.
Do you think God gets
mad when we step on
ants? Do you think ants
live? Do you think God
curses us every time we
end a life? Do you think
we’ve stepped on a few
too many? Do you think
I mean lives or ants?