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I shake a bucket of grain and whistle through my lips
under the summer sky
and the horses thunder in from the south pasture.

I lose favor with a teacher
because I beat everyone’s score
including hers.

I grow up,
but really I don’t.

She tells me I’m weak.

My folks never hold hands.

My sister is popular,
and skillful, and still mostly humble.
My sister is successful.

I live in the shadows.
I love from the shadows.

My truck breaks down.

I am selfish.
I give up everything.

You take me in a night of rain and darkness
and the universe opens to our cries
and we enter the kingdom of heaven.

I am in hell.
I drink the flames.

I work overtime.
I work two jobs.
Life is a third.

I apologize to my grandmother as she’s dying
because she won’t live to see me get married,
I’m not even with anyone,
and she shushes me and says it’s ok,
yes she will.

Before he passes,
my grandfather agrees there is nothing after death.

Her eyes pass over me.

I lie in bed and listen to the storm.

I tattoo my body with text.
I tattoo my heart with your memory.

I drive down a dirt road.
I fish in the dark.
I sharpen my knife.
I am strong.
I am unbreakable.
I cry alone in the night.

There’s neon.
There’s drifting smoke.
There’s a hole where you should be.

I sell my soul.
I let my heart get ripped out and eaten.
I grow a new one.

He threatens me.
I don’t care.

I listen to windchimes.
I load 1,000 bales of hay.
I stare into the arm of the Milky Way.
I want you but I don’t know who you are yet.

She doesn’t understand.
They don’t understand.
I don’t understand.

You tell me you love me.
You mean it.

I drop out.
I write.
I tread upon paths of stars and faint imaginings.
I live.
I die.
I breathe.

My mother teaches us.
My father teaches us.
They still never hold hands.

You see my soul, undressed.
You tell me of its shape.

I dream of mountains and oceans and deserts.

I wander the museum at 9 years of age
and wonder why everyone else isn’t here.

You’re gone.

Light moves through the trees.

We try to tell each other of the light
we see in the other
and we don’t believe a goddamn word of it.

I watch people destroy the goodness we’re all born with.

You show me your demons.

I punish him because he deserves it.
Then I realize no one deserves it.

I watch children and dogs give freely
from hearts bigger than we’d ever admit.

My nostrils are filled with red dust
and I make money at brandings.

I sign a petition for equality.
I join no party.
I write for the paper and document campus protests.

On Saturday night
I break bottles against old brick and howl at the moon.
I am saved.
I am damned.

I abdicate my throne
and they don’t understand.
I’m late
because leaves and grass fill me
where shiny parades of nothing cannot.

My family wonders what I am.
I wonder what I am.

I wonder.
You wonder.

I’m not confident.
I don’t join the Master’s program.
I’m too confident.
My horse stumbles on deadfall and rolls backwards over me.

I sit in the pickup bed with my dog
and we watch the sun set.

I take you in a night of fire and thunder
and we burn and die and are reborn.

I write a research paper on biological science.
My life is a country song.

I am not practical.
I don’t want to be practical.
I should be practical.

I burst into flames.
I immolate the darkness.
I fan my wings and fly out of reach.

I am invective incarnate.

My fist makes a hole in the wall.

I bury my dog.
I bury my horse.
I bury my flame.
I bury my heart.

I run.
I hide.
I give my old saddle away.

I love.
I dream.
I shouldn’t dream.
But I do.

I love the way you dream.

I work too hard.
I don’t work enough.
I move too fast.
I don’t move fast enough.
I help too much.
I don’t help at all.
I love too hard.
I don’t love the right way.
I care too much.
I don’t care about the right things.

I don’t understand;
but I hope, I think
maybe,
you do.

I shake a bucket of grain and whistle through my lips
under the summer sky
and the horses thunder in from the south pasture.

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