Asking why on the White River,
you tell me about the time you tried
to kill yourself, dropping to the side
of a California highway.
Later that night
I’m spitting tobacco juice down the drain,
remembering how I laid crucifix in the grass,
touched it with trembling hands in triumph
at the memory of a near six year drawl
prophesying over me: the grass
would never be greener.
Known only by the glow of cheap cigars
I tell you why I won’t sing hymns.
You tell me you were in love once.
I ask myself how to know what it feels like
and why time is a mechanism
of middle grade clarity.
The spin and ache of hours draws truth
from history, admissions staining the water
in incantations of suffering. Nicotine
behind my eyes, beneath my tongue
like a rudder as I say to the sky
I never wanted the grass.
I wanted what is now in front of me:
tall trees casting silhouettes on black water.