Things You'll Never Tell Your Children
it distracts from the powder under your fingernails;
you were making pancakes with your four-year-old daughter.
she sings small songs of stuffed animals and spilled juice,
it reminds you of babysitting your little brother
barely seven, who used to put cockroaches in the microwave.
he sang about the splatters on the little plastic door.
you tell people, the stage is so much more a home to you
than it used to be.
strangers have memories of a broken young man
atomic bomb poems,
his hair a suicidal black,
he would get electrocuted by the microphone every time he tried to sing.
people laugh and say “that part of you? he’s dead now,”
that sugar-tongued boy still exists
re-appearing in shadows and toxic moments of quiet,
he breathes smoke plumes down your neck
making you wonder why you ever quit cigarettes.
bleached hair doesn’t look nearly as good, but it serves the purpose,
distracting from the powder under your fingernails,
you were making something much messier than pancakes:
a fool of yourself.
looking in the mirror, you try to remember your best friend,
all tear gas and Clorox stained lips
they were the type of mess that MTV cherished.
X’s painted over their eyes
they punched holes through hotel televisions
because they hated how people would call them
you try to remember what they smelled like
but all you can conjure are possibilities
medicated and moved on from
like old stomachaches.
your bitter young man comes back every once and a while
blowing ashes onto your notebook pages
casting jealous glances at your four-year-old daughter
he hisses “what on earth have you become?”
you say “an adult” and refuse to blink when he breaks a mirror,
rips the door off its hinges
or carves his name into the screen of your television.