Parker

When they told me you died

I tried to cry

But with dry eyes and a sunk stomach I heard “no”

I miss you Parker, a barefoot lanky waltz by the bar, an order:

two cokes (they burn on the way down & then sit

sizzling by the guts) & it was you, it was u who taught me how to

pitch chip putt drive. so tall you spun cotton clouds w/ ur swing

taught me how to breathe, blink, kick, and dive,

and when underneath the whole ocean ——

                                everything is

                                    so quiet except for the regulator’s purr purr purr

 

Your Facebook wall’s got ivy growing on it; love and pain frozen in so many characters

That bloom like so many poppies

you’re forever young in the pictures they tack up there, wincing in the sun.

now you’re rotting in the ground in somewhere, new jersey, where the sunset fades

no more we’ll meet again down in some distant relative’s home

 

a backyard tin can cigarette, like a diorama of incandescent adolescence

and the girls will peek over the fence at you and fuss at their hair

 

here I am getting older fatter balder softer stronger

& you’re there with dirt. When we rode by night it felt like

flying, we ran like the wind and when the hill slipped out

underneath us we dodged cracks in the road

 

                       when the wind streaked in our hair it felt like the heart slipping down the page   

 

but

 

when they peeled the road off you did the asphalt sting?

    Were you smiling when your heart got slow, sang, skipped, & stopped?

Cheek to cheek I bet.

***

The night before I turned sixteen

I couldn’t sleep. I could barely shut my eyes

I was grinning wide, filled with dreams

that I’d been yearning to realize.

 

The whole night my lamp

glew like it knew how truly

utterly completely cramped

a fifteen year old feels when he’s

 

trapped in the cocoon of youth. That morning

I skipped school, slid into

the driver seat, beaming

as I buckled up, stepping through

 

the doorway to the rest

of my life

 

it sat waiting for me in the

DMV,

where teenagers waited in aspic

 

lines with

their long hair combed and makeup on,

to grin and force their lithe

bodies into smiles

 

take a picture of innocence just one last time

print it  

on a flimsy plastic slip.

We were the only ones in those lines

 

that couldn’t wait to get outside.

It’s like learning to walk again

 

the thrill

    that kills

of pressing your foot down to glide

across town, trying not to spill

 

because

you’ve finally stretched your curved

feathers and learned how to fly

 

        falling to the forest floor

 

I’d sneak my way to the city’s end…

& watch my headlights scroll across dead

highways, engine humming to the rhythm of dewy

mornings, new beginnings & neverendings.

 

And yeah, I drove too fast, & yeah I drove too tired,

& yeah I drove too tipsy,& yeah I drove distracted, &yeah I drove too late,

& yeah I Drove too mad, & yeah drove with my eyes wired

To my phone, & yeah I drove too dumb

 

 

 

Have you ever seen a picture? of crashes,

Faces burnt to their stalks, noseless and with one ear.

 

Beauty doesn’t survive the sting of gasoline burns

But how can you really and I mean really tell a kid

Who’s just been given wings not to flash

Straight to the sun?

 

That was six years ago.

 

And last year’s tonight dad called me,

And like always he hugs me through the phone

(his words) to blanket the tragedy

 

That last forever’s night they found you Petey,

stuck to the freeway.

 

 

I wonder if you were smiling

Right before you flew away.

 

I bet you were.

 

cheek to cheek.

 

 

Parker Petey and Brendan, I miss y’all.  

When I get there someday, lets order a couple of cokes and chase them down with an uber.