things we leave behind

by emery rose

a three year old polaroid a stranger's voice off screen a letter addressed to the dead a tuxedo bought but never worn a vacuum borrowed for a decade a stolen camera and home movies a musical trinket from infancy a fake apology offered as a poem a wedding gift not on a registry a name a face a body a voice a life a home

but never you and never her

being without words does not mean i don't feel the endless distance between closed lips

while monuments to thieves stand protected by their guns a stolen mother grieves lest the streets forget her sons bloodsoaked flags are waving of blue and white and red the first two for policing the last for all the dead seas of concrete speaking for those who cannot breathe the hourglass is leaking while new revolutions teethe lifted veils revealing that democracy is staged our pursuit of healing must free the millions caged

in the stillness of morning a record skips spinning at full volume flooding thoughts writhing between sheets she clutches her heart to rip it out but loses her grip she covers her ears to drown the message but the words slip through her fingers and crawl into her head exhaling violent whispers that she is not enough

there is no love felt in the light of a million diodes and the laughter carried over a hundred miles of fiber still cannot fill the room or be felt in my chest a constant stream of unicode tells me we are here together but my heart tells me...

connection lost service unavailable

sometimes when i part my lips what emerges belongs to you a high fidelity recording of all the ways i could have been better and i try desperately to forget those words wishing they would become like the gospel cassette tapes that melted in your glovebox in the summer of '94 but still every verse lingers but still every chorus stings

carried by robotic vultures passing through silicon dreams replicating echo chambers liquid crystals pick the seams

every breath a lie every lie a virus of its own

turbulence brings forth from her lips lost secrets and curses but she has not yet learned how to speak truth into stillness

bound in ambiguity and doused with equivocation she is set ablaze by semantics until she is neither subject nor predicate until she is reduced to the ashes of a burned book an allusion an allegory a ghost in the footnotes haunting the margins trying desperately to rewrite the pages so they speak of her with the same certainty that underscored every word that spoke of him but she is only a chill down the spine she is only a lump in the narrator's throat she is only a name

this child you claim to love who gazes upon you with stars in her eyes and birds in her heart how will you tell her that she and her mothers deserve less than other families the ones who live smiling in unpurchased picture frames that their good health that their safety that the roofs that shield them from blistering cold and sweltering heat that these are only privileges that these are all subject to the uncertain tides of men the men who control these things the men who gaze upon her who gaze upon her mothers and declare their appearance their shape and their voices undesirable unfit undeserving of love how will you look back into her eyes which reflect the sky she sees in you into her heart which beats to the sound of your drum and tell her that you casted your vote against their humanity that you casted your vote against hers

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