Flame Out

Her fire story is
26 years old
tonight. Even older
than the one about

an idol who jumps off
a stage into her reality
for a few brief
breathless moments.

Before it goes up
in flames. A reenactment
of Purple Rose of Cairo
before she saw the movie.

Sometimes we steal
from the collective
imagination first.
Sometimes it takes a long time.

26 years for her
to think of the birds
that lived in the nest
those roofers torched by mistake.

October 1

Six years and counting.
You’re not coming back.

Another perfect fall day
in this northern city
you rarely left.

Tomorrow will mark 24 years
since you parked that U-Haul

filled with all my belongings
(including me)
in the parking lot

below your apartment
above the cobbler’s shop.

I’m still here.
Mr. Lee is too.
But you.

Sometimes it makes sense
not to put things back

where you found them.
I had a dream last night:

We were on a plane
flying from somewhere
going somewhere else.

When I see the calendar,
I remember—that’s right.

But it isn’t right at all.
Who can say if we really belong
to ourselves. Anyone else.

If you break enough
roundtrips, you don’t make it

home again.
You become that guy
in that song:

“Used to live at home,
now I stay at the house.”

Do they have bars
where you are now?
I wish I could

call your name out.
Wish I could

hear that song
with you one more time.
Make it a thousand more.