Once Was A Boy

by A. Barnaud
at the interstate stop, i meant
to shed my skin and grow a beard.
i woke up dreaming of the house
by river rocks in the old country
where there’s no in-between.
when i was five, i thought
fairies lived inside my tv set and god
could hear my prayers and i
was a beautiful boy.
when i was fifteen, i thought
i’d grow up to love flesh against mine.
some days i’m at a diner down the road,
or in a hotel breakfast room,
or in a mirror behind a door but i
belong every time
i take a breath and remember
i’m alive. they say everything
happens for a reason
here in america so i’m
tuning out the news reports
to try and believe it. at the interstate stop,
i get free coffee, stroke my chin
and live with balloons on my chest.
we all have burdens.
i have monsters in my head that say:
keep your head under the bath water longer
jump off the new city bridge
make cuts in your skin with a knife
she will leave you they always leave you
don’t eat but
drink drink drink.
i have monsters in my head that say
nothing when i’m yelling at them from
an innocent heart of denial

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