Don’t Forget You’re Bohemian, Lover Boy
I wasn’t there
when your cracking foundation first
got laid, but I helped you
paint over the barren walls and hung
tea-stained newspaper curtains
to soften the light.
In the long years after, you glazed over
our fumbling mistakes,
applying filigree to all those edges
that just wouldn’t set.
These days your edges are all masked
and you’ve sealed your cellar door,
ringing your eaves
with the sort of detailing that demands
repair after every storm.
Looking at you, you’d never guess
that we’d once spent whole days
polishing your splintering stairs,
tracing the scar tracks that I’d later hang
my nostalgia on. There’s
no trace of the rafters that once shook
beneath my hands.
Just remember, love,
pine doesn’t hold shine for very long,
and when you finally
settle, your baroquen gutters rubbed bare,
it will still be the whorls of my
fingertips that gleam in the muddied glass
of your first attic window.
I’m Broca’s Bitch Now
It starts at the turning; voice drops
and this son, suddenly sonorant
offering shelter and shade for every tired bird.
And between us, fricatives and fights,
words that drip with derision.
I know it’s a rather ordinary division; I too
had been sickened
by my own father’s bootlicking
tone, his sticky, liquid consonants.
I’d weeded his phrases out until my tongue
bled; seeking lenition that leaned,
a white-picket path
out of the cotton.
The boy would have none of that:
morae had become moral and he had a vision
of acacia blooming above the plains.
At least he fought with the tools
I’d given him: words.
But, what shoddy tools I gave my boy: wilting, wicked words.
Worthless words that did nothing but flicker
quicker into the night while cops
stared face to face and saw
All my careful phrasing couldn’t stop
the torrent of
me when I tell you to put your black arms up.
I wasn’t there to hear my boy’s glottal stop.
My whored voice, well-behaved,
has no diction that can bring my boy back
from the black-top.
It’s always after the fight.
My knees still bruised the kitchen floor
while you painted your Chevrolet silhouette-black.
You sat alone, kneading the blood
spatter off of your knuckles.
Cigarette smoke roiled, rolling through
the thready, balding tires.
Later, I held your license plate against
the hollow place where my lies had lived.
There wasn’t a god in heaven
who would seriously consider my hypocritical prayer.
Perhaps, if the ghost of a stranger’s teeth hadn’t pressed
against my lips’ memory,
there would never have been bullets
to juice the half-rotten kiwis on the back of the corner stand.
Perhaps, had we lived different lives,
you would have been driving and we’d have leaned
together at the light.
Perhaps I’d have heard the whisperswitch of green/red,
the electrical spark that loosed the semi that drove
you out of my world, by grinding you
into the next.
Author Bio: Kathryn Collins’ essays and poetry have been published in the Rumpus, Burner Mag, Rational Faiths, Vocal Media, and Bank Heavy Press. She recently received her MA in Professional Fiction Writing from the University of Denver, and currently works as a librarian. After a long period as an expat in Germany, Israel and Australia, she has returned home to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.