1. You want to talk to him, but
you’re an atheist.
A yearbook spared by fire.
Old poems: juvenile, urgent. The secret
of time travel. Paper smoked
with mint and coconut, chlorine
summer. Their nostalgia unearned
elegy. A churchyard bounty:
pale bodies trim and bone, inspiration
plain. You look online. Search
engines tender alternative
identities: writer, preacher, West Coast
jock. A friend’s e-mail. Arizona,
he says. No details. Still you type
his name into Google, the result
you hope for ruin.
2. You listen to Leonard Cohen
again. We remind you you’re not
unhandsome. Your looks are mis-
understood. You pay no attention, eyes
unmade and full of limousines.
3. In college, you fall for a poet,
granny glasses, barefoot
guitar. Together you read
at rallies: professors lewd
for their and other youth,
girls who long for him.
Your poems scan, waltz
on parquet. His shimmy
narrow as hips.
Secretly, you think
them sentimental, too
direct and unambitious.
You recall the vinegar
tang behind his ears,
his scruff of neck.
No line of what
In 2006, the bullets
in Oaxaca. His last
4. You’re so fucking tired of talking
to ghosts after all.
5. There is a boy you knew in a life
not now your own. A dossier of bruiselight
clubs and orchid brunch, a deposition
of mimosas. How they love his improbable
charm, how it lights their finer angles.
He does not sleep with you, who knelt
in dubious theaters, arched yourself undone
on piers, and you are grieved and grateful.
His gifts accrue promiscuously.
You know it isn’t effortless. You’ve closely
observed the engines of beauty. Facebook
photos post like table knocks, wardrobe raps
dispatched from Sitges or Summerland.
Erik Schuckers studied writing at Allegheny College and the University of Sheffield. He picked apples, cleaned theaters, and sold books in the US and UK before moving into nonprofits. He lives and writes in Pittsburgh. His poems and nonfiction have appeared in Chelsea Station, Assaracus, Clockhouse, PANK, and The James Franco Review, among others. His essay “Summer: A History” was published in the anthology Not Just Another Pretty Face (Beautiful Dreamer Press).