If I played guitar, if I sang, I’d return the hours
to the hourless clock, my hands,
the wax to the candle. I’d raise every man’s eye
from the lie
he’s carved in the table.
But I don’t play an instrument. Nor do I sing
for anyone’s pleasure. Yet there are times
when the only story I want
is one I’m inventing. Doesn’t a moon ripen
a voice? Or, is it the tide? It can’t be
what’s left behind—the bits of hollowed-out
bone and brine. It can’t be that after a night
of debauchery, there’s only dishes.
Trying to differentiate has to be more
than a hobby. I know I confused
lyrics you wrote for truth. I know I mistook
the shape of your palm for a talisman.
But, lover, listen.
You, who’re outside smoking a cigarette, tagging
your initials on strangers’ walls.
We’ve got to stop them.
We’ve got to stop
our unlived lives from climbing onstage, putting
someone else’s words in our mouths.