Every time I see you, Patrick Swayze dies again.
Rewind the clock, let’s listen to the clank of your hips
dancing with the dirtiness of the mid-teen years.
Back then, that whole place was like Skatetown, U.S.A.:
board shorts and backward hats, the scars on my knees
to prove it. Before school, we’d roll out of bed and
there would be a red dawn, and oh we knew, we were
safe, decisions made for us in some other room.
At 13, things were sucky, scoffing about our ugly friends
and the way they butted into pictures at the dances.
In 7th grade, you failed a social studies test, bawling
outside Math class, and I laughed. That was as bad as life
could get, red pen scribbled F and some dude with six armpit hairs
mocking you in the hall. You think you are the loser of some game show
consolation prize, a ghost holding a straight jacket or a baby
with an eating disorder. Now, I’m sure the house on the other side
of the road reminds me of my childhood home, the shitty pool
in the backyard and shirtless kid in the window with a knife.
Looks like a nice neighborhood, I say. This is the point where I break,
where I forget where I was going with this, like how you forgot the way,
taking the wrong turn, ending up at an abortion clinic on a county road.
If you died right now, on this porch, I wouldn’t have an answer when
they ask, who is the next of kin? We never got past catching up, fake laughing
about the hours you spent staring at the ceiling in your underwear.
If you gave me three wishes, none of them would be to die, so that’s good,
you said, looking down the alley, then back to me, grabbing my hand.
Tyler Gobble is a student at Ball State University. He is blog editor with The Collagist, lead poetry editor of The Broken Plate, and a contributor with Vouched Books. His work has appeared recently with Metazen, Mad Swirl, and Spooky Boyfriend, among other places. He blogs here.