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to burn is to die, mourir cest gurir

a collection of poems Kyler Selby

the fade After I clean my room, I find myself Spending more and more time in here, Retreating Into its organized (ha!) Nooks and Crannies. But as I cohabitate with the Books and Beds and Blankets and Doors and  All that damn noise, I see it slowly shift from After  back to Before. And then it's back to the living room, Back to the kitchen Back to the orderly Back to away.

gideons trumpet The other day I saw this movie And this old man was forced to  Defend himself In court. And they tried to play it off As this old, awkward crook Just trying to Get off. But to me it looked more like a Sad Desperate Man Who was flopping like a Fish On dry land Around the courtroom. (And some people may say A crook is a crook, But a man is a man, And his life is a life.) And fuck, They still sent him to jail.

grenade I woke up from a nap this afternoon, And all the awkward Tense Feelings from this morning had dissolved away. But as we sat on the front porch, Me leaning my head on your knee And calling out to the most high G-D, You kept tick tick tick ing your fingernail against your necklace. "It's time for me to go." And the waves crush my bones into sand As it all floods back over me.

i could never And I love you, but I didn't love it, Because it turned you into someone who just didn't know when to quit. You looked me in the eyes, said "In you, I see me. Baby brother, I'm sorry I'm not the man I wanted to be, But I love you so, so much." And I love you too, big brother, but I didn't love your crutch, Because on it you leaned so hard until it snapped And left us here alone in the wake of your crash. What was the last thought to go through your head? Was it me or Zach or Mom or Dad or did you just want to go to bed? Did those chemicals creep over you eyes, blocking us out, Because when I saw your skin, I felt my lungs fall right out. And I cried next to your bed, dad did too, And I couldn't keep myself from crawling back into your room To read your words, and to smell your clothes Lay in your bed and cry and cry and cry like nobody knows. "Trust most, but not all," says the note by my bed, And I miss you, I love you, I will see you again.

<0 My unread emails Are way past double digits, And my unanswered letters Are edging towards that same mark. That defining line That either says, "Fuck it, throw them away." or "Well, here I go." And the phone is no consolation And the words words words words words Sans tone, sans breath, sans reason Are nothing. They're worse than nothing. And I cling to them, Because maybe I am too.

a love The waves peeled back from the shore Like sheer sheets from a bed,  And left behind the skeletons of a day A year A time When things so immense, so gargantuan So patient So kind Without envy Without arrogance Bearing all, believing all Never failing, Walked the earth. And goddamn it, they were beautiful. And their bones shone like the moon itself, So that Even in their death, they made themselves known.

the french language When we spoke of love, Our tongues stumbled over the word And we laughed And we kissed And cast sidelong glances to see If someone might catch us, speaking in this Foreign Tongue. So fresh and new and beautiful. But when our conversation turned to death, That familiar taste on our lips, so strong that we might Choke on it, We spoke boldly and assuredly. Because we knew that we knew What it was we were talking about.

the man in front of the city park Peeling his skin back, he found nothing but glass And thought: Well that explains a lot.

a childs wonder, a fathers regret He looked up at his father His wrinkled face,  The lines running across his forehead like highways on a map, And he wondered aloud why he was The way he was But the man only looked down sadly at him, With his eyes turned slightly aside from the boy's And he said: It's so much easier to see the sad things in this life Than it is to try to conjure up good ones. And he thought, "Maybe that's not something for a child to hear." And the child thought, No shit, dad.

to be alone I want to think That I've always known what I've known And that I've always been what I am That I've always been someone I can like But then I remember, I used to know nothing, and now I know nothing And where I used to be everything Now, I would give anything to be nothing.

hindsight It's like when you were young and the Bright,  Colorful Insects were all your favorites. And you were so sad when you found out They were all Poisonous. Except this time you didn't find out until After you had eaten up Every Last Word They let carelessly fall from their mouths Like drool while they slept, And this time you weren't so much as sad As you were Competely, And utterly Gone.

root Today, I was leaving the store And I saw a car, plastered with all these  Narrow-minded, Overly preachy, Political  Bumper stickers, But I noticed him swerving to avoid the speed bumps Just like I was. And I realized that Everyone is a father's son  Or a mother's daughter, And everyone is more human than a hill is a hill Or a tree, a tree.

creosote I walk outside, early, to the leftovers of a rain that passed in the night, And I think: You can sleep through the storm  But you still have to wake up To its remnants.

fall down So maybe I wont get a job, wont dig my own grave And its not cause Im lazy, its because Im a slave. Ive spent so many days with these chains round my wrists That once they slip free, they wont ever be missed. At least, thats what I said, maybe its not what I meant,  Because I just cant let go of the places Ive been,  And I just cant let go of the things that Ive done, And I just cant let go of the man Ive become. So I clutch and I grasp, I flail and I gasp One last breath before I slip back under and relax. But I forget that you made the dark just like you made light And in the moment you made day you also made night, And was my salvation a matter of chance? Or if Id been born in Vilii Teci would I still be a part of Your plan? Because if it all boils down to where you were raised I think thats called conditioning and not being saved.  But then, as my head breaks above the water and I see All the other sinking souls, drowning just like me I blink against the mist and look up to the sky And I swear that I swear that I saw You cry. So I reached out my hand to the nearest raging chest,  And I wrapped my arms up in theirs and brought their head to my breast, And we sank to the bottom, where the water meets the earth And our chests grew tight, and our eyes started to burn. And as dark gave way to light, as we started towards home, We walked hand in hand, we were no longer alone On the oceans floor, safe from the storm above, Some call it refuge, but we called it love. And we called it ours, but was it ours to keep, Or could it leave without warning, leaving us here in this sea? And I know that I know that my tens not your ten So when I mean to say lover, Ill be sure to call you friend. And every night Ill tell you that you shouldnt leave him, Because I know thatd make you sad, and I cant bear to see it. So I write letter after letter about your future and mine And how maybe if Im lucky they might intertwine,  Like two seeds in a pot that came up as vines And wrapped themselves around each other and knew not time,  Nor rhyme, nor rhythm, nor restraint.

And somewhere along the line I found out you were flawed,  And yet, I loved you just the same, did I not? Because I know how it feels to be loved despite who you are As I remember a tear that fell down from the stars, And landed in my chest and watered that desert And death gave birth to life and we were no longer separate. But thats not to say thats love I can give But at best, I guess I can show you a reflection, Like I saw in my brothers, And I saw in my friends So Ill only be filled up to be poured out again.

adam So there you go again, crawling after feet of skin Because, man, its so hard to look within Your own head, your own chest to find out whats inside. (But I think really were afraid to find out that weve lied And that all thats left is pride) So dont you ever forget That your long-forgotten heroes once proved themselves men, And as you sat at their feet, with your head in your hands, You put your head in their hands and they snapped your neck. So nurse your wounds, healing consumes just as much as the hurt did, And what do you find as you emerge outside but that youve stumbled upon a serpent. So you cross yourself, knowing the bite will come and loving it, Waiting for that poison to spread so thin it might cover all your sins. But you will not be covered! No youll no longer hide behind your leaves and twigs, Because if a mans a mans a man, were all sick So we bide our time and we hide our eyes and we dont even realize that were this terrified that If I see one soul, and he sees mine I swear: Ill die. So dont you ever forget That your long-forgotten heroes once proved themselves men, And as you sat in your room, with your head in your hands, You put your head in their hands and they snapped your neck.

one of those late night poems Another poem, Are you kidding me? You only seek refuge in things that bring misery. But I swear, this time its not just for the sake of Putting down Words and Words and Words So I can move on past this love Love? Who are you trying to fool, You crushed the seeds under your own gardening tool! And Im sorry Im so sorry at understanding what I feel, But its hard to distinguish between the created and the real, And so I tripped over the starting blocks, never even ran And I watched as some other suitor came and took your hand, Spread salt on my soil, so nothing could ever grow Because as much as I want it, Im too terrified to love, And to be loved: I think thats just too much.

covers You are the swooping line, Always turning and drifting and falling and always in motion. You are a stunning display of Falling and Flying. You are the wind underneath a delicate flower petal, Lifting it and dropping it, Falling and letting fall, Pushing and pulling, Completely disappearing without a warning, But Always present. You are the life beneath the wings of an airplane, You are the hot air in the balloon. You are everything, always, at one time.

allan-michael My friend, He was sick yesterday, And he took four dayquil this morning, And all day he couldnt Look at lights or Hear loud noises Without grimacing. And all day long, He kept asking people, Can you please be quiet? Can you turn that music down? And the like. And everyone would just Nod sympathetically And comply, As if he had asked them to not kill a puppy Or to pull a sticker out of their shoelaces. And I think about every time I say, Could you move your shit? or Can you please just stop talking for five minutes? And they stare at me as if I were from some Completely different planet. That lucky bastard.

accidents happen The thing about vegetables Is that although its depressing to see them Breathing Eating Drinking And really thats it, Theres at least that transition from Alive To dead. Whereas in my mind, you were alive one second Then the next, After mom started crying After Tara apologized After that chaplain sympathized, You were dead. And how can I even begin to make that jump? I watch videos of our shows, And I think about the time at the Bora Bora Or at The Underground And every time you kissed me on the lips And how your breath always smelled like cigarettes And your bed And your clothes Your hair Your face Your hands And how alive You were. How alive we were.

some great something These days it seems like Everything is building up towards some great  Mountain peak Or maybe it's a cliff Or a hole Or the most majestic hill you've ever seen With rolling grasses in every direction And flowers scenting the air, Stuck behind your lover's ear, And she's saying, "Everything is building up towards some great Something." And maybe that Something is nothing Or maybe it's everything, But what matters is that she said it So you know it's true.

february A year ago,  Out of Borders  Into the car  Onto the turnpike And then I'm dying. I'm driving faster than my speedometer can read And I hit the ER parking lot going 40 And Tara's out front  And mom and dad are inside And then I'm dead.

the day of the pergola It was almost spring And the sun was finally out, And the skin On your shoulder Was warm from sun Underneath my lips For the first time in a long time. And you painted in watercolor And I wrote in India ink (Everything felt so permanent, so final, Like carving in stone Or burning a page of an old journal Or a discarded poem Or that picture that you just couldnt stand to look at anymore) And James played the piano And David fetched Lesley And the sun showed his face For the first time in a long time.

as persistent as the rain And no matter how many times you fall And get up And fall And get up, We will all fall one last time, And we will not get up. When it's time for us to  Get low, Fall asleep, Leave everyone and everything we've ever known For someone and something we've never come close to knowing (In that sense of knowing as Knowing all, And knowing completely, that is.) We will then have the time For that letter weve been putting off writing, Or the scratch For that dress she's been wanting, Or the words We've been meaning to say for  So, so long. But they will not have the time to read, Nor the will to ask, Nor the ears to hear, And we will be left lying there,  Covered in dirt, And saying, Absolutely nothing.

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