manilla hell, words

was looking for a book to read since sleep decided i wasn’t worth it’s time

a manilla envelope fell from the shelf into my hand instead

wish it hadn’t

wish it had stayed tucked away

hidden itself from my sight

or that i had the brains to listen to my gut when it said don’t open that

it is a trap

a block of hell

but i did

and the first thing that fell out was your wedding ring

and then a couple sympathy cards

and a stack of photos from that last christmas

and i screamed not to go through them

not to take that trip down memory lane

not to see your smiling face

how thin the cancer made you

how young you were

i was

but i did

i flipped through the stack of pictures and wept on them

anguish grabbed my pitiful little heart and squeezed

you and i laughing like you weren’t months from cremated

like the maggots hadn’t already eaten into my brain

and what was at the bottom

the father’s day card you died before i could mail

and the card you sent asking if i wanted to come home and tend bar

and one that said how proud of me you were

all those false smiles

and now i lay here remembering your voice

that trip

those final moments of not crying

i wish i had broken down, not waited until i got to the hotel and smoked the joints i smuggled onto the plane

not drank myself into a stupor as i tended bar and pretended it was just a normal trip

or that now i don’t regret having moved to texas

a place that has been a series of heart breaks and sorrow

there have been two good things to come off the last eighteen years

let me regale you with what you missed as i cry to your photos dad

the day i decided to end it with the girl i brought to meet you she told me she was pregnant so i married her instead

lived in the burnt out husk of a relationship that had died around the time you did for the greatest girl on the planet

when i knew it was bordering on a parody of marriage i decided a second kid might fix it

it didn’t

but it gave Maia a best friend and brother who turns out is the greatest boy on the planet

a year and a half of not even kissing led me to a divorce

and an idiotic relationship with someone i knew better than to be with

see Dad, this relationship had a shelf life before it began and lasted until it curdled as well

i look at that fucking moron smiling and pretending you were gonna beat the cancer and feel nothing but hate

nothing but hate

where was i

since then it has been a constant series of mistakes

of empty promises

of terrible writing

of missing you

what advice would you have for me

would you tell me to pack it up and come back to Illinois with my tail between my legs

to just burn it all down again

tell me, because i need to know

should i do that thing i dream about, that final thing and join you

the one you would never forgive me for doing

the one i have dreamt if doing for months now

leave the kids their own manilla hell to sort through

right now, at the bottom of a series of bottomless seeming pits it doesn’t sound that bad

at least it would be quiet

i haven’t spoke a word today, not one

between the headache and the solitary mess of waiting for another chance to ruin someone’s life i didn’t open my mouth once

won’t tomorrow either i bet

i didn’t answer the phone when it rang because it wasn’t the only person i would actually speak to

and now laying here with a pile of your pictures spread out and tears pouring down my face i don’t think i will answer it for a while

a good long while

i could use your strength right now

or your foot on my ass


because i was already teetering on the brink and i got the last thing i needed

and it feels like the last thing i will get

this feels like an end

a good bye

i need to think

and a miracle

and a reason to not get that bottle when the store opens tomorrow

and i don’t see any of those things happening

goddess help me if i get that bottle

help me from this fall


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