Monday, August 13, 2012

"immaculate heat, beloved exhaustion"

"immaculate heat, beloved exhaustion"
after a long talk with two friends by jake kilroy.

under a barrel moon,
we watched our hands age.
we heard the crickets in our bones,
we felt the sands of time replace our blood,
and we buried our heads in hats
that we never would've worn when we were punks.

our pins and patches had been replaced by collared shirts and slacks,
our fevers had been replaced by conversations and pats on the shoulder,
our hunger for women had been replaced by heartache and marriage.

it was the hottest night of the year,
and the air conditioning was broken.
we fanned ourselves like debutantes
and licked the sweat off our lips like sugar.

we spent hot nights differently once,
but this was educated. this was promise.
this was truth given to us like a beating.
what good were the lines he wrote in our girlfriends' lipstick
if we were only to renounce our own hearts years later?

"how well do you think i'm doing?" one of us asked.
and all that came was a batch of confident words and more gin.
he wanted us to tell him that the what-ifs disappear,
that hospital beds and cemeteries were fine places to discover hope.
he wanted to hear us tell him how we couldn't believe our luck,
that we loved like outlaws and made a living like bank tellers.
but he knew.
he knew that the only difference there was a dress code.
deep down, he knew that liars can be saints sometimes,
just to keep a man from the gallows.

but this is what we can do for each other.
we can speak of glory,
even though we wouldn't be caught dead in a rapture.

tequila sunrises are the only morning shots this crew of lunatics wants,
and we'll settle for sunsets if we can sit on the edge of the world
and welcome the darkness as our great comeuppance.

christ, this is inexcusable.
given everything as charity,
wanting nothing as inheritance,
wishing wandering eyes could stitch up broken hearts.
what arrogance we've made a mess of.
what ego we should double-down on.
what card games are even left in this town that aren't crooked?

as i cracked the window
and pulled the sheets from my bed,
i thought of all that went unused in my life:
the typewriter i picked up at a garage sale that i left in my parents' attic,
the woman that wrote me my last love letter,
this summer, last winter, that spring i was a hypochondriac.

i was exhausted,
from the heat, from the drink, from the work,
but i was once exhausted from moving forward
with everything i had in me.
even though i was once tired from writing letters,
from swimming coasts, taking on storms, and cooking up trouble,
this sleep that came swallowed me whole,
like a whale with a fetish for bible verses and tongue lashings.

i woke up this morning terrible,
with a nervous system shredded and a cut-up mouth,
and it took everything in me to just stay awake long enough to write this poem.

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