Jay Bird

By Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

By Katie Hogan

I heard you ran out
of cigarettes, somewhere in between Los Angeles
and where you rest your cheek at night, that hidden city that
smells of tall grass and loneliness.
I heard that your heartbeat still sounds
the same: slightly irregular, but
resembling a forgotten Debussy tune.
Sometimes, I bring myself back to
when we were young and dumb,
walking the streets of Paris and hoping that
one day, sometime soon, we could
be buried in the cobblestone, somewhere
where we mattered.
On the rooftops of Montmartre,
you tossed coins to all the pretty ladies
you wanted to share spit with.
Open your mouth, offer your
tongue; don’t say where
your heart is from.

This is the language of love,
and we both attempted to
learn it in the basement of a bar
full of aching limbs and empty
suitcases. Strangers – we
bonded over the spine of books,
but left the city after we learned
how to break our own vertebrae.
Toughen up your knuckles;
let it sting when
they greet the wall.

I bring myself back
to another night on the corner of
Figueroa and Adams, my arm an anchor
for your stumbling melancholy. This is
how we learned to heal, in a city full of
broken beer bottles and tears.
I heard that, where you are, the corners
aren’t occupied with the half dressed prophets
you befriended (and how they miss you
and your always half full cartons so dearly).
Sometimes, I bring myself back to
sharing a bed in Long Island with you and the various
segments of our hearts, how we wished that
we could suck up each other’s sadness so
we could no longer cry. But I still remember you,
How you picked me up from the kitchen floor;
how I held you when your shoulders
threatened to give out from your shaky hands
and those devils dancing in your brain;
how we fell in love with the same medication,
the medication that made us feel
like we maybe we did matter;
how I fell in awe with what your mouth
produced before I could stutter
your name with confidence.
I heard that you’re still breathing out there,
that your fingers still make love with ink,
I heard that you’re surrounded by
new stories and your old Mormon memories.
But sometimes, I like to take myself back
to when we were both at the front door
and I like to think that there was a chance,
a moment among the many that we could
never grasp, where we never had to say goodbye.
Soon enough,
your heart will be full, fractured
and undone, but you will finally feel
like you deserved to be loved.
So wherever you go, you
will burn bright; so keep those
fields ablaze, keep your chin
held high.

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