11. at pause.

-To be honest I don't really know how this works.

-How do you mean? 

-Feels upside down.

-Everything's been fine.

-Yeah, but everything is what? Two months? A couple phone calls, some emails back and forth?  We've shared the same space for about 7 hours tops. 

-Who gives a fuck? 

-I guess. Me? Mol, hand me those Skittles. 

-Who the hell eats Skittles these days? He and I grew up together, he doesn't care. 

-Shh... They're good. Fruity good.

-Corn syrup good.  Camping? You nerd. Give me one of each.

10. in these

You came back with the firewood, exactly as requested. It was a varied affair: twisting extensions with gnarled tendrils and eyes, stunted segments broken off long before due, thick, thin, dry, wet, the straight and narrow.

-I can’t use all of these but good job. Well done.

You recoiled into that same whimper that Marley does so well. She was just a puppy but she excelled at that. A natural. Scowl.  You retreated into the wood with your bottom lip protruding and a raised brow. The light gait of your walk betrayed your feigned feelings of hurt.

-Hurry home, boyo!

Without pause, you flicked your hand and wrist at me with a flash as if to say, “nag.” Guilty. I’m the first to admit.  Watching your back recede in the distance, a bellowing laugh erupted into the clouds with a violent shake. Some fair weather feathers above responded in fear, or in kind. It’s hard to say. Chirping is chirping.

The fire relies on a specific structure, or at least, that’s what I remembered from scouting, possibly the only thing I remembered from scouting. The newspaper sat within a carefully knitted pyramid of kindling then to sticks to branches to logs. It was, or aspired to be, a perfected gradient in size and weight. It fell more than a few times. I’m not that good at it apparently. As long as it held, I was happy, it was just going to burn down as the sun set.

I pretended not to notice as you returned with a bounty.  In retaliation, you dropped your fresh collection directly on my task at hand.  Before I could take in the pile in tatters at my feet, you grinned, leaned in, kissed my right temple and scampered away before I could swat at your ankles. Calve socks pulled high, city shoes, shorts. An unexpected quirk that you can’t help but find endearing regardless of how disastrous it appears. You really weren’t an outdoor kid.

You went on to fumble with the tent as I attempted to rebuild this combustible affair. Beads simultaneously formed on our furrowed brows. This plot of forest was your friend’s backyard – expansive, but needless to say, “roughing it” was a generous term.  We could leave this world at anytime, reverting to our need for running water and electric light, if need be, not fifteen minutes away in one direction.  Instead, we held our ground with an unspoken determination, a shared knowledge that there was magic embedded in this moment.


I could imagine running barefoot through the moss gathered under the shade, hand in hand.

I could imagine stepping gingerly into the waters, pressing our weight into the stones beneath us. The stones would be smooth, slick with growth clinging on as the force of the snowmelt pummeled into them year after year.

I could imagine us lying down in these waters, face up, fully clothed, a result of childlike tussles, breathing deep, relishing in the wet seeping into our fibers, the chill soothing our bones.


I surrendered my sphere to join yours. It was still light out. The fire could stand to wait.  You looked at me, hands splayed, asking for an inspection. Each pole was staked into the ground with conviction, burrowed deep into the earth. The stretched skin bowed over them, lying in wait to take on the world outside. You did well, but you knew that.

I returned to the pile of branches in anticipation.  You stood by the tent, hands on hips, triumphant, proud of that feat of construction.


When night falls, we will huddle by this fire, arduously achieved, naked save for this shared shroud wrapped around our shivering bodies.  Our shirts, my pants, your shorts, our socks, your boxers, my briefs will be draped across a makeshift rack. We will stare at this smoke and flame rising up and up.

When this fire dies, we will retire into this dome you built. Dry. It will hold, it will hold us; we will look up through this skin into the skies above and understand that we’ve done something right. In the morning, we will carry on.

9. before the turnoff

I continue to have a penchant for falling asleep for the first thirty minutes of any car ride. The residue of childhood visits to Maw-ma, winding through mountain roads to get to the other side. In the backseat, I shut down before the urge to vomit took hold. Years later, they plowed a tunnel, carving away those age-old stones to forge a direct path.  She had since moved away from home to be closer to home – to her children. Things have a tendency to come forth just as personal necessity passes, so we take heart in the fact that our pasts have paved the way for the future, begrudgingly at times.

The foliage was an unending stream. If I blurred the edges of my mind just so, it was as if we stopped moving. We were contained in this metal box on wheels, speeding up until we reached stasis, suspended within a placid body. We couldn't accelerate any faster. The law forbade it. Freefall. Something neither of us enjoyed at amusement parks but would submit ourselves to for the other. Now we know.

I conjured a lake to juxtapose the stream that flew by outside the window. Immersed in the calm of this lake was, oddly, the one moment I could sleep without a second thought  despite the tangled positions wrestled into that passenger seat. When I shook the sleep off, my face shielded from the sun, the reds and greens continued rolling, just as I had left it behind in my consciousness not long ago. Your right hand rested on my thigh, fingers softly squeezing periodically, as if looking for a pulse. 

The highway was a filter of men and women journeying north to south, south to north. Some with trunks filled with treasures held dear, some left with nothing at all, heading to the next to the next to the next. You always drove. You always held this particular focus behind the wheel, a glimmer of expectation in your sights, unfazed, impenetrable at times. Straight on till morning. Under the hum of the motor, that clear intent, that was your lake. 

With that half hour long behind us, the air whipping through, that familiar hollow sound, I surfaced from comfort every two minutes to change the radio station, lifting my feet off the dashboard each time. The search for something better always bested the ease in being still. 

A song about love. An ad for a tribute concert at Jones Beach. A song about taking it deep.  Another crap song about love. I crashed back down, the weight of this burden resting squarely on my soul. A fistful of tortilla chips quelled my unrest.  You gestured at the glove compartment knowingly. Your bare right hand returned to my thigh. No one wears driving gloves anymore, mind you.

We turned onto the off-ramp singing off-key with the mix tape you made the night before. 

7. a morning preceded by

I turned over as the sun eased in through the windows. It didn’t matter. I had been awake for hours. It was the nature of things.  Perhaps it was a problem, constantly ripped away from sleep, but I never mustered up the energy to do something about it. If you don’t care to act on it, can it still be an issue?  Looking down, through the shadows cast by the whatever tree limping outside, Marley had found a nice crawl space against my crotch to call home. It was warm enough as it is, in that lofted bed, my face two feet from the water-damaged ceiling. I reached up and touched it, reminded of the numerous times you cracked your skull on its rough edges:  rolling up to get some water in the middle of the night, half rooted in your subconscious, propping up on elbows to push Marley away from our legs as we struggled to stake our own territory, coming up to exhale, looking at me as you released my cock from your lips.  A chuckle always accompanied the dull thud.

There we were, on this flotilla, curled into a cotton canvas of 300-count indigo. A trio huddled in tight corners; we all had the same idea. Stay put.

The night before was less of a blur than I expected. The bartender tended bar, grazing fingers as he passed you a drink with a knowing smile. We all shared a laugh, a harmless imposition that stopped before it even began.  You shrugged and mouthed “sorry” in silence, underneath the jukebox trills of the fourteenth top song of the nation. I shrugged and smirked in response. You brushed my hand as we walked back to our group of revelers, sipping Negronis through stirrers. Libations for a balmy evening. I glanced back at bartender there, back to his usual bag of tricks, a banter that disarmed the most cautious of patrons.

You danced, I watched. I considered joining you but something about seeing your shoulders under this cast red light, swaying – was best enjoyed from a distance, a compositional thrill. Molly slumped down next to me, a dull thud on the bench that was suspiciously reminiscent of the pews I squirmed on in a distant moment. What was the fourteenth top song then? I chuckled in my thoughts.

-Going well?

-Yeah, it’s been good. I’m trying not to care cause we’re both headed off to do other things for a bit.

- That doesn’t really matter. If it works out, it works out.

-I don’t function like that.

-I know. That’s why I’m telling you.

-I know.

-Just let it happen. It it works out, it works out.

-Yeah, okay. 

-You like him.

-Yeah. Yeah, I do.

- Then get up. Dance.

These hooligans, they started to salsa, rocking their hips, spinning in circles under garish magenta, teeth bared. It was a dogfight, contained, cyclical, each adversary anticipating the one to break the chain. Molly loved to clap, on beat, double time, half time, off beat. It was an action about action, not about sound or purpose, or purposefully defeating the purpose – or it was just clapping, evidence of exhilaration.  The dogfight continued as I sat watching, squirming, a little intimidated perhaps. You and your contender accelerated, still locked in battle, dervishes, until magically, in tandem, you both swung into an out of breath heap on a floor glued together by ancient spills. A bellowing cackle ricocheted across the room. Everyone won tonight. You gazed into the lights as you gasped for air. The magenta made them brown, but bright, like polished stone. I took the remaining swig of a neglected, watered down Negroni. The melted ice left a sheet of condensation on my glass and indirectly, my hand. I wiped my left brow and cheek as you rose and sidled up against me.  


A sharp intake of breath, roused, you glanced over your shoulder. 


Eyes half wide, blurred, then shut, a slight smirk,

-Don’t yell at me.  

I chuckled and hit the sheets with a dull thud.  They swirled gently back into us. 


6. shortly thereafter, revised twice.


It was really nice meeting you the other day, although Molly got a little rowdy and cut our chat short at the end there.  I’m still amazed by how much she ate. I know you’re heading back to Pittsburgh relatively soon but if you have some free time before then, would love to continue the conversation if you’re game. Grab a drink? The one thing I remember about Pittsburgh are all the steel bridges that span over the rivers that run through it. They were pretty incredible, to be honest. My parents lived there before I came around. Its hard to imagine your parents anywhere before you come along, no? 

Take care


5. five years ago, december twenty-sixth

I’m almost sure the snow was falling. I could have sworn at one point but that time has passed. I remember standing next to you, looking up, looking at the sky, lowering my head and looking there: deserted, silent, snow falling, maybe. Does it really matter?

I can’t guarantee how we got there. I recall saying something about late at night being the right moment to be anywhere near there. We slid on shoes, glanced at each other while doing so, and walked out into the open.

When we returned, we fell into bed and the abandoned wreath hung on your door.

4. initial

  • You think it’s worth it? I mean, he lives in Pittsburgh.

  • He’s considering moving here. After the summer. After school. He's probably going to move here. You know, he doesn’t always talk about people like this. He spent ten minutes describing the BLT you were eating. Like the lettuce and the tomato and how you nudged the pickle into the corner.

  • I keep wet things away from my fries.

  • I don’t think anyone does that. Ever.

  • What? Fries?

  • Talk about a BLT in detail. It’s worth something.

  • ...alright.

  • And how you were sitting in the sand like a baby fawn. See, it’s weird, what people notice.

  • That’s the color of the walls in my apartment.

  • Sand?

  • No, Baby Fawn.

  • That’s redundant. A fawn is a baby.

  • It’s paint.

  • It’s inappropriate.

  • So.

  • It’s worth it. Just send him a message.

3. afterthought

Five years ago, I was left behind or I left it behind on my own volition. I don't think I ever recovered. I set up a self-imposed trap for myself, personally, to walk into, by myself. I stare at it blankly and poke at it with my forefinger like a curious child, without a clue as to why it is here, how i got here and whether anything would feel different without it - a phantom perched, waiting patiently for me to make the first move. The appeal of it doesn't lie in wait at the heart, but in the trappings surrounding. My eyes rest on it now, fixed.

2. five years ago, a start.

There was the thrill of summer – on the beach, splayed across a blanket, sausages smoking on a bucket grill, the faint smell of coconut, cheese sliced on driftwood. An average summer day.

You sat diagonally across, shaded eyes fixed on the distance, gently taking in the water as I gently took you in – hair in a tight knot, wisps flying back, a gold (pink?) hair tie soldiering in the wind. The slope of a shoulder, freckled in pigment and sand, trickling down to a single nail coated in pink (gold?).

A short exchange of words morphed into a quiet walk away from a knowing crowd, directionless but always right on the edge of the waves. We carved a path along the right.

We passed a man: “the darkest, most beautiful I’ve ever seen – almost blue."

I watched the faint curl in your upper lip as you spoke, the hint of a smile that broke out into a full bodied laugh and had to disagree. A tiny heart and key rested on your throat, and perhaps within mine. There was the thrill of summer.

1. these are the things that I know.

I am increasingly lactose intolerant but I continue to eat ice cream. My bowels and I, hand in hand, all go down screaming. 

I was told at a young age that we are all unique, individual like snow flakes but I have never seen snow, 

I was given a name at age two. My given name at birth is something I still cannot pronounce. I think it just means “boy.”

Instead of stating the obvious likes and dislikes, I feel the need to qualify what I say with considered intellect. I don’t think I’m qualified, but I’m expected to be the authority on matters about myself.

I am a boy.

I’ve been around for roughly twenty-eight years, most of which were spent blindly pawing for something tangible. In the whole scheme of things, there’s nothing unique about this.  My experience will expand and extend to the extent at which corresponds to another series of finite experiences had by another. I warm to this because I am not alone. I am universal. Not a snowflake.

I have lost the ability to be blind. That is not to say that I see everything, but I do make a valiant effort to. 

I read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man in highschool. 

I believe that we all originate from somewhere. However, an origin varies on a particular set of circumstances that can be pinpointed to a locale, a time, an event, relying heavily on a fallible human system called memory.

I remember having at least forty-five cents in my pocket to mail you a letter. I have two quarters. I am right. I don’t think this will reach you.