Final Exam

I can figure this out.
I can answer this question.
I can solve this equation.
I can work out this riddle.
I can break this code.
I can crack this case.
I can put this puzzle together if only I can find all the pieces.

I can locate it on a map,
try to draw a thin
unsteady dotted line,
from

here

to

there

and back again.

I can make this calculus work.
I can fashion an answer from this algebra.

x + y = father dead by suicide
(when I was just 14)

What is the x, the y, that ends in that solution?
Is there a z I’m missing?

Where, I beg of you, are the alternative outcomes?

I need to know.

I’ve needed to know for 26 years.

I can solve for x, for y.
For why.

But I can’t and that’s the trouble.

I can solve for everything else.
Everything but.

But it all comes back to him.

At Home With Hungry Ghosts

Haunted and hunted by what ifs and if onlys.

They hide in the corners, scurry by in the dark, linger in doorframes at night.
They show themselves in the bright morning, as I drink creamy coffee from a pink-patterned cup.
Under the frail light of the half moon, they frolic until I glance their way.
They are without shame.
They creep along in the shadows, then reveal themselves in an imperfect patch of sunshine, lazy, stretching.

Ridding myself of them seems impossible.
They are embedded.
They are comfortable.
They are at home.
They are home.
They sneer and confront, they cling, they show up when least invited.
They taunt, beg, whisper, caterwaul until acknowledged.
They sit in inky blackness, sharing a laugh with one another.

In bed at night, they lie beside me, on top of me, all over me.
Just smother me already and get it over with, I suggest.
But they look hurt, troubled, as if I misunderstand, as if I’m the one calling them.
They protest without apology.

In the day, in the car, on the couch, in the yard
they wait.
I drink red wine, I meditate, I think, unsuccessfully, about other things.
They wait.
I sleep, I nap, I dream.
They wait.
I ruminate, the worst of all.
They wait.
Open my eyes, hope they are gone and yet still
they wait.

They saved me a spot
right here.
They’ve set the place, laid out the good china.
They’ve fixed me a plate.
Here, here, they say, pulling out a chair.

I’m never without them.
They’re right there,
on my heels, on my back, on my shoulders, behind my eyes,
staring back at me from the reflection.
Stalking me from inside, focused, relentless.

Can’t shake them.

If I could go back, I’d change it all.
I’d change everything.
Every. Last. Thing.

Maybe then, I’d be free.

Gospel

Get born.

BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY
BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY
BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY
BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY
BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY
BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY
BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY

Die.

I don’t know.

Letter to my younger self:

“What are you waiting for?”

Letter from my older self:

“What are you waiting for?”