You’ve been up all night performing sagebrush rituals
because your brother’s son is dead
in a familiar Pacific Northwestern winter story
& you’re calling across the continent to make sure it won’t happen to me.
Desperate please for righteousness, I hear that strain in your voice.
It’s why you became a medicine man, to heal.
Cutting your hair in mourning and placing it on the coffin,
I cut mine in sympathy.
Daddy – I didn’t kill myself when things went wrong
even though self murder runs rampant on our Island.
If it was going to happen I’d already be gone, buried in the forest
but I’m too in love with my cell phone to die.
Promises of who may call & wake me up
from that restless sleep, the ghosts of old lovers…
I wait for those flashes of beauty lighting up the city streets.
I’m not 17 anymore
I’m over the worst of the melancholy.
I’ve already valley-of-shadowed with dark under eye circles
& come through the other side
so now I can lecture all the sullen teenagers in their camouflage armor,
remind them not to drink that bottle of bleach,
leave the razors in the bathtub, stop fantasizing about bullets
blasting brightly through the head.
There is something beyond a land of tidal waved natural disasters
& endless grey rain.
There is something beyond the dark days of high school.
Lay down the knife, kids: steel is so cold to the heart, after all, and death
is not that romantic.
It is possible to crawl out of a war with shattered kneecaps.