two-in-the-friggin-morning

By Riley Henderson

My friends forget
so they can cope,

by whatever means
available.

My friends
will wake up tomorrow
with the same pain

and a slightly weaker
stomach for it.

They may
know something
I don’t.

Sometimes I wish
I was more like them,

but I chew my pain
like cherry stems,

and tie it in knots
with my tongue,

turning it over
and over again,
‘till it’s more like a game
than a war.

Fumbling around
with these wounds
in my mouth,

trying to find which words
will keep the stalemate up,

and which ones
will help me
last the night.

And there sit my scars,
like so many frogs
behind pursed lips,

taking note
of how it feels
to hold the world in.

Women
marvel
at this party trick.

It’s not a trick,

it’s not a trick.

Men
ask my
how I got so

patient,

not knowing
that patience
is a virtue

found first
in confusion

and settled
in a love

unreached
by mortal hearts.

No,
it’s not a trick,

it’s the same
dirt

you have
at the bottom
of your jacket pocket,

nestled between
your phone
and your fingertips.

Or the fights
you carry around
in your heart,

full of words
you can’t remember,

and pain
you won’t forget.

Gritty,
constant,

and there
by no admission
of your own.

You pour yours
in a shot glass,

and I tie mine
in knots.

But what
pretty pictures
might become,

of alcohol
and cherry stems?

What beautiful
menageries,

between the forgetting
and the street?

Rain
pitter-pats
above my head,

between
your supple hands
and bated breaths;

heartbeats

in a tempo
I’ve ignored
for far too long.

And I wonder
what knots
I could so untie,

by the same tongue.

Lonely nights,
and holy fits,

there is more
to life
than this.

There is more to life
than this

It all,
by right,
is mine.

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