I3 Burgess

My man Saul offers me a cigarette
every Saturday at our stop, even though
my answer is always no. Saul shrugs
and exhales, and I can see the years
of his life crinkling through the smoke.
He was an orphan, and a bum,
and a dealer back in Compton, and a father
to two dead children who follow him
and call him names. Saul shakes his head
like he’s got water in his ears, and then
he looks over and asks if I want a smoke.
Every Saturday he does this. Every Saturday
I want nothing.
It is 3:12 a.m. on the morning of the earth’s end, and I’m
pianissimo on the high keys, just little taps on the white
to match my pulse. Maybe somewhere people are leaping
from buildings hand-in-hand. Maybe somewhere the birds
have all flown south—but not here. I’m spreading legs
across clean sheets with toothpaste on my upper lip and all
my clothes torn and tossed in piles, while you’re lying
in bed some 70 miles away, smelling like you do, crying,
like you do, having dreams with storylines about filicide
and cogs in machines. We lie in the same dark. Tonight
I had the urge to pull onto I-5 and drive the 35 miles north
to Tacoma—or farther. Instead, I wandered home. I’ve been
bent over your beauty from the moment we first swapped spit.
I keep tracing the lines between us on a map in red ink.
Let’s do something crazy tonight. Let’s stand atop a building
and not jump. Let’s crash double crescendos all over this mess
of dreamy absence. Let’s watch everyone die and hear beautiful
music bleeding out from each other’s lips, wispy notes grazing past
our cheeks, forcing us both to close our eyes and feel for our faces
with our palms.
Jackson Burgess writes and studies in Los Angeles, where he co-edits Fractal Literary Magazine and Red Sky: a Literary Journal. Jackson’s work is floating around places like Atticus Review, Vector Press, and Jersey Devil Press. When he’s not wandering around and talking to homeless people, Jackson paints and doesn’t wink at girls because that’s creepy.
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