until you see it isn’t there (read at the amherst rao's reading on 3-30)
wow, I’m turning 25 in may
the years go fast in my opinion
there’s a picture of me in front of a birthday cake on a flammable table cloth
for every birthday up until maybe 10 years old
I look so happy about the impending cake
I look so happy to be descending deeper into life,
and my family too appears pleased about my descent
(we’re all wearing pointy cardboard hats to indicate the intrinsic goodness of life)
after that I was 11 through 24 and we couldn’t afford flammable table cloths anymore.
we used to park at the sea wall and watch the wall keep the waves from washing us away.
I would eat candy on the vinyl seat and earn cavities the delicious/hard way
the waves loitered behind and up against the wall,
and there was bird poop and graffiti on the wall
I used to think “I want to do graffiti, I want to be older”
“I want to be old enough to shake a can and spray a message”
in general the years go fast in my opinion.
I like that you’ve referenced my upcoming birthday twice.
there is something I really like about you; I won’t fuck you over.
I want to take you to the beach and
kiss my graffiti into you. I want to lay on the beach with you and
kiss you in a dying wave. I want to
kiss you in the new waves too. I want to
wrap around you like a lazy starfish,
pin you down on some wet terrycloth, and I want there to be sand
when we were parked at the sea wall my mom used to say “look, there’s a mermaid!”
and she would point to some anonymous molecules, tessellating in the distance.
I would look hard and long and never see the mermaid, always frustrated
with her elusiveness, always taking it personally
(and then, the silent and gradual realization that there was no mermaid)
seems like this is the definitive model of the tragedy of childhood
seems like the model matures and the mermaid evolves into other things that you stare at
until you see it isn’t there
there’s a picture of me at maybe nine years old, in front of a birthday cake
I’m wearing a shirt with a screen print of a photograph of a pig on it
my face is very puffy because I’m on steroids because my kidneys aren’t working well
I look very sad
I look like I want to peel off my body like a dumb snowsuit
I can’t look at this picture anymore
this was not a good birthday
I want to recite my kiss into your warm mouth,
enlist new mermaids for anonymous waves.
you remind me that the past does not exist anymore,
not in any real or consequential way.
when I am kissing you I am just kissing you.
you are asleep in my bed, you are laughing at my jokes and
we are not wearing any clothes.
you are beautiful in the face and my birthday is coming up.
you are beautiful in the face and behind the face and you have no idea.