Look to the Living, Disregard the Dead

it happened again last night, heard him in my dreams again

wakefulness greeted me with the memory

of his vacant eyes, fixed upon the ceiling above

and I’m studying the star-shaped tattoo on his chest,

chanting his name over and over in my head again

sorry I haven’t been home in a couple days,

it’s difficult to breathe with punctured lungs

don’t want to know who they are,

just how they died, in the bedroom

simultaneously but on opposite sides

a fight? Romeo and Juliet committing suicides?

need to study for my Spanish exam

but I can’t forget the animal scream

the daughter made–she was about my age–

like the pack of coyotes howling outside my window in Plainwell

close my eyes and make it disappear,

but this noise exists on the inside, flashing red and whites

you pull me close at night, bodies packed

tight on your twin-sized

feel the waistband of your underwear

and recall the dead man once again, again

you were right there with me the whole

time; I envy the sound of your snores

sleep kissing your lips to drown you in her peaceful embrace

I’m slipping out of your grip to sit

in the living room, alone

waking up on the couch, eyes wet again

don’t want to remember why you roused me

the other night, tears falling down my cheeks

body trembling in my sleep, whimpering

I heard her animal screams; oh, I envy your snores

alone in the living room and upset once more

so I turn up the music, the synthetic noise

hope, the eyes of the dead pass like weather

I’ve never been very good at predicting the future

they say the dead come in three’s,

but this past week, I’ve had four in a row

I know it doesn’t matter

it’s just so hard, the next day, to sit

in a classroom, my body aching from doing compressions

while I’m surrounded by children on all sides,

the ones who spend their precious time

flirting at soccer games, making jokes

only academics would get; I’m so sick

swallowing my own tongue because it’s safer that way

“look to the living, disregard the dead,”

nobody ever said; it happened again last night

algae blooms of dead bodies exploding in my head

so I untangle my limbs from yours, gravitate

towards the living room, where I sit, alone

burying face in hands

it’s happening again

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