Editing poetry: Dead boys

This piece has vacillated between being a poem and a very short story. The only reason that I’d keep it in this form is for the repetition in the second section.  This is inspired partly by the excellent Patrick Wolf song ‘To the Lighthouse’. The lines ‘a candle with a broken wick… I have been’ come from Saul Williams’ ‘Release’.

He falls from the train
An elevator from the 28th floor
To the spikes of the railings.
The notebook swallow-dives
With him, lands.
The red
of the cover leaking into the pages,
The white
of the pages leaking out to the cover.

You are star-eyed, windows on a centrifuge,
Black sparsely flecked with life,
Your eyes in black orbits,
Skin flushed deep red and the palm
Of your hand
Red smacks down on the wooden desk

This is much better, anger for tears,
Papercuts and salt water.
You have realized
Like a dark dream unfolding
That he never gave you anything
Real enough
For them,
No locket, inscribed metal,
Acid-etched glass. Your name, his name,
A vestigial pleasure in access after the fact.
All you have is his words
A candle with a broken wick
A puddle that reflects the sun
A piece of paper with my name on it

All that I am I have been

Eventually you get a ride, red palm stinging in the back seat,
To his apartment,
All the appliances still holding their breath,
The dishes stretching and yawning in the sink
Like black cats, their fur damp,
Not quite understanding.

As you enter, the silence clutches you,
Forces all oxygen from your body
You sit heavily
The furniture should be covered
With dust,
Yellow police tape,
Not just the same like it’s still waiting.
You slowly open the bedroom door,
The present you left for him is still
Sitting on the pillow,
Neatly folded,
The floor falls away,
The black sheets curve, spiral like a galaxy,
Collapse into infinite gravity.
You are compressed into a singularity.

Months later you have taken to carving his name
Into everything,
But you don’t remember why.
At first it was just flesh,
Arms, legs, chest (while standing in front of
The mirror,
You cried for almost an hour when you realized one letter
Was backwards).
Now in the margins of books,
Scratched in wood and metal,
Idly traced in bath water.
The compact lettering is somehow

Once you had covered a
Whole journal page with his name,
And the next page
‘it’s not my fault’.
The word ‘my’ lines
Up in a sloping line across the page
Like a scar.

What I’m thinking about changing:

I would like to present this piece another way. Perhaps with the journal page as a background and the words over the top. Or maybe as a short flash fiction piece with some unusual spacing to allow that red/red/red repetition to stand out more.

via Editing poetry: Dead boys.


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