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feeling your lungs fill, freewrite 10.3.14

I wish I could say
that 
my actions are more than
those 
of a man drowning,
wild-armed, begging forgiveness
of the current — 

of the tide, apologizing
between bob and breech, asking the waves
why 
she seems never to love me
‘til I’m tightroping
a razor line between sea and sky
trying not to call myself capsized;

I wish I could tell you
my lungs aren’t taking on water,
 and

that my stomach
is not filled more with 

ocean than last meal, or
that 
I cannot feel all of my organs

descending into panic, you

once asked me if I could swim, I 

looked at you and told the
lie 
that lovers tell, trusting that the
prayers floating inside of our
chests, like clusters of young fireflies
still unsure of their own
light, will come to love
themselves into
constellations
and save us from our
dark corners like glowing stars
on childhood ceilings.

I said “for you,
I can learn.

I meant “if I drown,
it will have been
a choice
to chase your reflection.

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freewrite (9.28.14)

and then one day you wake up
and realize that
you’ve spent more of your
light dragging your
sorrows into sunshine —
bought more stock in your
pains, and angers, and
darkness, the relics that you keep
dutifully
carrying
with you each morning, than you’ve invested
into your smile —

one day, you will reach down
to grab your bags before walking
through another threshold, toward another
same-old-new-thing, your hands
will start shaking,
will look up at you,
will grow mouths,
will grow teeth,
will snarl “no,”
will ask
how you could be so stupid; how
you could believe
that the pieces of past you wear
like dog tags
dangled lazily across your breast plate
have ever actually spared or saved you; have ever not
just been your own blood painted like a bullseye around
your soft tissues and fears —

your hands will look
up at you and ask whether you
are better off, or whether you
just acclimated to
breathing angry and pushed-to-fringe as if
it were an altitude shift, and just
learned to find comfort in the places
that light doesn’t go willingly —

when your hands
look up to you, lifelines crying, asking why
you have forsaken them, I’m just begging
that you listen.

they are trying to save you.

Quote Iconplease forgive my quiet.
I’ve been listening to God,
and men, and
trying to live down
each of my
days, my dreams
haven’t come ‘round
as often as nightmares have; it’s scary
when you can’t let go, and you
have more reasons to wake
up tomorrow than to
sleep tonight.
Niles Heron, Freewrite 9.15.14
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Freefragment, 8.29.14

she was like walking
up to the edge of a cliff
and letting your toes dangle
taste freedom; giving them
a chance to plume, or learn
they were always every-only human, she
was a dream on a picket fence
straddling, struggling to name
itself as either flying or
the other thing.

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freewrite 8.26.14

until I watched her at low-tide, I never
believed
she could pull water from the rocks

until I walked to the shore at dawn, and
found her moon-lonely, floating
above the empty remnants of a river once home
to a town-full of
baptisms,

until erosion turned her cheeks to
aqueducts, pouring herself back into
holy

until she looked at me and asked
if I thought they would notice that
from now on the Mississippi would be salt water,

until I looked into her eyes, hollowed and
cored and caved, and
all of the things I had drowned or orbited
in her over the years was looking back
at me

I didn’t know that running
just leads
to caught

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Freewrite Prayer 8.12.14

Father,
In the end if I remember anything, let
it be everything, but if my memory
of my human life is going to stay here
in my body after I leave it behind,
please help me ease into the when in which I will
remember nothing,

I pray, I ask
let me spend my last moments
not fighting, unless it is for you,
not fighting, unless it’s with you,
not fighting, unless it’s to get to her to kiss her goodnight,
I’m so tired of fighting, Father. I don’t
want to do it anymore
but I will do it forever until I know my sons
and daughters won’t have to
but whenever I lose this here
I don’t want to feel it slipping through my fingers
I don’t want to be scared anymore

I don’t want to leave my last movements as
empty grasps at the memories of their valuation,
swatting at the cold hands gripping the back of my neck,
or resisting wherever they’re trying to guide me

I don’t want to feel empty without my anger at
the silence of my friends who stood
quiet as we bled out in the streets
of the country they. call. home. too.
as they walked by and looked at us turning a color
we should not be able to turn,
and cocked their heads slightly
and said “howdy neighbor” before returning to their
text messages.
and as we hung like tire swings with natural hair from the trees
they let their kids climb like they were their own, and
said: “it’s just a tree,
you didn’t invent it.
nature is for everyone.”

I wonder if they pray like this.

I hope
the last thing I see might be of you,
or of her,
of someone who’s love has not given me pause
of someone who has already given their life to the kind
of love worth dying for.

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freewrite 8.6.14

i don’t know how to
comfort humans, I don’t
always understand them, us, we
don’t find history or truth
to be gentle, respectful of the sweet,
the way we prefer
our medicine; our neighbors don’t
lend out even spoonfuls of sugar like
they used to, and all the gates and triple-locked
doors make the transition from momma’s house
to the warden’s all the easier,

i wouldn’t have known how to
tell him his momma wasn’t coming
she was going to find out about this from
a phone call from a doctor
who wouldn’t pronounce his name
right, no familiar hands were
going to help carry him into his chariot

but when he was laying on
the cement, having been dragged
out of the car that flipped twice
by people who were “basically
paramedics, and knew they
didn’t have to stabilize his spine before
moving him,” who were basically just
used to paramedics not showing up
when they called, when he was
laying on the cement, he never called for his
mother or father or sister or
any one else who might have found a way to leave him, he
just screamed out
at
or
for
God,

and either way, I just kept mumbling
“preach.”

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Bridge to Somewhere (freewrite 7.13.14)

even with hands built
to carry peace
over troubled waters,
i am only steel and
concrete; only submerged pillars
breaching, desperately reaching
toward heaven so
painfully accustomed to coming up short —
misdirected suspended roads,
i am a bridge to nowhere unless
I have your shores
to land on and name
destiny.

I look at you and see my mortal leave
and my lover —
teeth and also your lips,
claws but also your hands, the palms
that showed me what could happen
if I just trusted and prayed.
I see all of the parts of you
that they see, and the reasons
they are too afraid to catch you
when you jump into their arms, we
are such a delicate balance of want and
need and fight
and
flail, it’s hard
to feel like feathers and
freedom could ever be the product
of our exponent

It might take the rest of our lives
to let this love stand
still, but I will wait
as long as you will
and if this kills me
I will have died for
you, they laugh when I tell them
that lions
are people too

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orange you glad I didn’t say banana 7.4.14

i didn’t know she
existed outside my dreams.
i’d never been good at keeping
my hands empty, or
my cup watered, or keeping flowers
alive, until my knock-knock jokes
bloomed and ran over the edges; until
I became more
forever than
funny.

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freewrite 6.27.14

how many have
died trying to
save you from
the hurt you hold;

clutched close like
a wallet you can’t afford to lose
again because you barely survived
the last time you were robbed, like
a hand you won’t know how to
get home without;

clutched close like
your past is the only
person who will ever know
the real you?

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Freewrite 6.23.14

sometimes i sit
elbows on my knees,
phone sandwiched between
hand and ear waiting for
the other end to small miracle her
voice into a psalm; i wish
prayers worked more like
microwaves, yet still fed
like your grandma’s hands,
she always seemed to be
at peace watching the
bone boil into proverbs like
deathbed confessions were dripping
from the marrow, said it ain’t right
to rush last words — I just
wanted more gravy.

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Freewrite[s] (3.25.14)

(I)

It feels like I’ve spent
every morning since I learned
how to bleed or
cry or
scream
or whatever this thing we do with pens is best described as;

watching the place where land meets sky
as if the dawn I slept through and missed might
backspin if I ask nice enough,
might sunrise one more time;
just for me,
just for you —
might mercy mercy my hands,
show things how they used to and
show me love like the first breath you take
after feeling your lungs cry Mother Mary when
your kick-off lame ducks and it takes too long to find the horizon —

if I am the sun, submerged,
then you are the sky I see:
prayerful for another chance to breathe you,
kicking twilight into last night
and spending my day in your arms —

you are a dream worth fighting away the dark to chase.

(II)

I can never remember the song,
only hearing it
I can never remember the words,
only the hair that grew and stood straight along my spinal column when they landed in my ears,
if you hold me when I dream at night
you’ll feel the goosebumps come and go,
my lalaland is more of a merry-go-round:
surrounded by circus clowns and yeti,
and cops,
and white people standing their ground
and tyler perry
and other shit that niggas like me tend to fear, and
wedged between Madea and Zimmerman and Krusty is a speaker
playing our song,
and for 3 seconds of every orbit I make through my nightmare —
around our planet —
I can hear only the words to a tune that I know if I could remember to tell you
would keep you here forever,

so if you want to know why I wake up in cold sweats every night
and I tell you that “it’s fine,”
and promise you “it’s fine.”
I just need you to remember that I’m doing battle
with all the things that scare me, hoping that
every night, in 3 second increments,
I’m learning the thing that will teach me to sing
in a key that opens locks
on doors you had forgotten.
could open and
release millions of paper planes
chased by enough wind to carry them across the
ocean.