Turn over my lost,
sustained pauses like couch cushions.
Fold me into something audible,
Lock the door.
Spread that shirt about your clavicle,
around your wrists and towards
the ceiling before you throw it on the floor.
I’ll lose my breath before I quit.
I’m not good at it.
Just ask the half empty pack hiding in the drawer.
You can’t see it, but my words are still covered in tar.
Let me prove that some things are better kept in mess,
I’ll never clean behind the coffee maker or under the stove.
If no one sees it, who should care?
Just sweep up everything, the dust, the hair, all the coffee grounds you’ve found
and sprinkle them in pinches
through our whispered stares.
I worry quietly,
when my fear of breaking
silence leaves me, that
there won’t be enough to hear,
enough to stand only as tall as half-remembered dares,
Won’t feel like barreling through
the hallways of your heart, tearing at each other’s limbs,
and crashing freely into whatever’s hiding
from my own bad days.
If we can’t speak here,
just show me where.
Let my soft belabored breath still go there. Stay.
There’s gum in the drawer where my cigarettes lay
because I don’t always grab
what I’m reaching for.
I don’t always mean what I say.
Neil Barrett lives in Alabama, where he teaches and raises a family with the love of his life. His work has been published by Leon Literary Review, Celestite, Alien Buddha Press and in a collection of essays titled The Metaphor of the Monster: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Understanding the Other in Literature.