The Kinloch Rivers Memorial Prize
after W.S. Di Piero
He’s never gone enough, wreathed in the odors
of old cinnamon and cigarettes. I can’t
make him go away—he’s a thick shadow
that stains my carpet and floods the hall.
Most nights, he’s like a drunken June bug
that hovers by the porch light, and the specter
of his breath glazes the window when
I look away. I feel his icy fingers trace mist
around the house. His groggy smoke
wilts the curtains and steams the rooms
till mascara licks corners off my sunken cheeks.
He made me happy, but how can I now
find new happiness, not just gardens
burning with dead citrus and mint?
You fog in my tea, you sulfur from the streets—
let me sleep just tonight without distress, to wake
to sunlight’s pure erratic tickling,
and burn your name right off my shaking lips.