as kids we never really understood
the power of that phrase
virginity, like a strong drink
still frozen on our tongues
a time tested truth

when we were 10 yrs old
molestation seemed like some
invisible baseball metaphor
coined by the ghost of steve mcqueen
as i sit here now
in a friend's kitchen
i wonder where it all went wrong

kris and i used to talk about girls
heaven in flower patterned dresses
blowing in fields of dandelions
without the benefit of one sex ed class

kris, who was named after kristofferson
whose parents met
in the same strip club
where we got our first beer
back in middle school

his mother dancing
to the moonlight for a few dollars
and a little hope
on a sunday morning
coming down from the night before

kris, whose father wore an eye patch
while building computers
in the upstairs bedroom
of his grandmother’s house
while masturbating
to 70’s porn on beta
that he’d let us borrow
if we promised to be quiet

we used to have pool parties on our birthdays
& look up at the stars in the sky
for guidance

we used to wander through lunch lines
clutching our milk money
wiping the sweat from george washington's
empty promises
without ever once thinking
about heavy things like self worth

kris, who was the first guy i knew
to “go all the way”
it didn’t make any difference
that it was with his mom

back then a boner was a sacred thing
and poole and i just asked him
what it felt like
to be a man

he said, “sticky”

and bragged about it
for the next 2 or 3
while we dreamt about cheerleaders
and bookish girls with black rimmed glasses
and just getting to second base
in our clubhouse in poole’s backyard

nothing seemed wrong then

we were kids who dreamt
about a lot of things
none of them sad

things like fast cars
& kissing with our eyes closed
come prom night
whatever that was
it was in the distant future

things like honor, like brotherhood,
like family

we were going to make it
out of that small pennsylvania
town together
but in my heart
we’re still there
still 10 yrs old
still waiting for our dreams to come true

sitting here now i can still remember
the indents of stripper polls in the carpet
at the bar when we went back to town
a few years after i served as best man
at kris’s wedding to the wrong girl
just because he wanted to know
what it felt like to have a normal family
what it felt like to truly be a man

the truth is
something tells me that
the skeletons in our closets
will be 10 yrs old forever
and that they will be anything
but masculine.

Requiem for a gambler
for Gene Bloom and S.A. Griffin

These days the ink comes out
like blood
like dreams
a lighter shade of pale.

Someone said, "You like to write ghost poems."
That isn't it
The only time I hear music now
is on the puckered lips of gravedancers
ghosts don't want to be anywhere near me
they look at me like I fingered their sister
at the prom in another life.

We're floating in shit and drowning in miracles.

The human body is 98% metaphors
and 2% nightmares.

So it just seems cliche to bet
on anything
with longer odds.

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