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 ——
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
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
where teenagers waited in aspic
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
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
of pressing your foot down to glide
across town, trying not to spill
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.