Beneath the Cellar Stair

Each name spelled out
safely, slowly with italics read
in a deeper voice. I’ve known to be
troubled when others speak of me

in the third person. In my presence. I’ve lost
my humanity, ability to reason, the color
in my skin. I’m a slack dummy, stuffing
that’s begun to seep out. And when those who would speak

of me as if
I’ve expired
are now themselves
dead, names

no longer can be pinned
to recognizable sounds. Boldface
gestures go unnoticed. Another crate
of other people’s memories

I must guard with my life.

Gannon Fling Don’t Mean a Thing

Erie, PA. In the end, I could not
debate away my future, never would win
any argument with this fear
of exclamation

points. You make a living
so well punctuated. I peel off
vices the way we tried them on
for size—a joint in those woods behind
our junior high, a messed-up mixology
with your father’s liquor
in your basement. Slow to get them, suddenly
shoulders drop to lean into it. I rediscover
aftertaste in a name—sour, bitter, could have been
sweet. The jingle was yours. How could we

have known I would end up holding
all the question mark sickles
in my stiffened fists
so many road trips later?