put down at what feels like the end by jake kilroy.
you know such truth in a hot shower after a long flight home.
back in the arms of your family, as whole again as you can make it,
you breathe as if memories and hopes and schemes sludge out of you
only for stronger daydreams and harsher regrets to push their way in,
making you a silo of more than what a human is in appearance.
you consider how your bones sit inside you,
slumped over after dropping a duffel bag
to the floor of a guest room you scarcely recognize.
you concede that your sleeping bag of a body aches
from a different kind of exhaustion than usual.
you dwell on how the years got away from you,
how they get away from everyone,
how you let everyone get away regardless.
you think of the woman you exhaled for a year.
you think of the woman that was better in letters than practice.
you think of the woman that worked marriage into your lips.
you think of the woman that made love to the future
when she put on a record and read poetry in her underwear.
your muscles, more familiar in wear, creak these days
as loud as your grandparents' floorboards
back when you'd tiptoe out of bed
to find your grandfather making warm chocolate pudding
from a recipe his mother learned when she came to america.
you knew which planks would wake your grandmother
and you knew how you'd make the dish for your own kids.
but that was long before you learned how the world worked,
epochs before you discovered how you really worked.
when you were young, you worried about a cul-de-sac life.
as your limbs grew and weakened like vines,
you worried about what else was out there.
but you had to see the world.
you had to drive your spirit into the unknown
to live like the greats—or their editors at least.
you had to eat, drink, and be weary,
so you could eventually come home
to friends who figure you must be lovely with bartenders by now.
you laugh it off, as you always do,
because no one believes you ever sit in silence
and soon you have to admit that you were better at small talk
when you were a teenage waiter
rather than an aging writer.
so you recall your early college years
when everyone was an artist
and realize you sharpened a skill
that was only a hobby for others,
and you tumble down your heart like stairs.
you miss everyone being in bands.
you miss everyone working on a book.
you miss everyone confessing their feelings
in rainbow splatters and dancing them off.
but in moments like these, you can feel every jukebox song,
every pint toast, every carnival kiss, every cigarette on the road,
every handwritten letter, every swimming pool lounge,
every holiday fight, every morning-after bruise,
every birthday wish beg, every dogeared page,
every nerve lost in grief, every promise broken true,
every pair of waking eyes, every soul that zapped you,
all of which has brought you up like guardians
who expect nothing but give everything
and wait to see what you do.
so you write in the second person,
because it's easier to give advice
than take responsibility
and you know that
better than anyone.