clutching our wrists – jacob butlett

image 4

We have at least one, a procession
of balloons, whose bony strings
clutch our wrists like lost children.
They appear, those balloons, whenever

we remember them, their eager pull
to a time when everything seemed fine:
when sunny water shimmered
even on cloudy afternoons,

when moonlit clouds opened
our bedroom windows to let the breeze
breathe in beside us as we slept.
They’re with us on our saddest nights:

their strings squeeze our wrists like
tiny tourniquets, our blood seeming
to drain out of us like cool pools of sweat.
Sometimes when we look at the rubbery

heads of the balloons, we see instead
their detached heads, our loved ones’ heads,
their eyes focused on the tears rolling
down our cheeks like stones.

They say nothing, the dead.
They let us sob, they let us laugh.
They must float for our sakes,
to make us feel that we’re not alone,

to lift us up like gales so that we may
dare to live while we’re still alive.
Some of us can cut their strings
with the dull scissors of time. Regardless,

our loved ones appear whenever
we remember them, their strings swinging
up from our stiff wrists like the stems
of roses that cling with love and rot.

SBGS December


jacobbutlett

Jacob Butlett is an award-winning gay author with an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. In 2017 he won the Bauerly-Roseliep Scholarship for literary excellence, and in 2018 he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for his poetry. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Rat’s Ass Review, COUNTERCLOCK, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Rabid Oak, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china. He was selected as a finalist in the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards residency competition. Learn more about Jacob at https://jacobbutlettacademicreflection.weebly.com/.

featured image: Liana Mikah

paper towel roll – jacob butlett

kaluci-145201-unsplash

“Gay males are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.” – National Eating Disorders Association

 

While the moon yawns outside the bedroom window,
I think of him as a white paper towel roll at a party:
In the beginning, a baby in the plastic-tight embrace

of his mother. Smooth, sensitive, plump,
he eyed others crowding around him, squeezing him,
soiling him with dirty hands of disappointment,

he believed. Holding me in the bed we used to own,
he once told me he hated himself for being himself,
for being the vanity’s prank upon the planet.

Since childhood, he’s thrown sheets of himself, papery
shreds of flesh, into the trashcan of life. Nothing remains
except a cold gauze of skin over his bones, the exposed

cardboard roll of his spine, which now I caress as he
falls asleep dreaming of what? Dreaming of food he’ll
never eat? Acceptance he’ll never accept?

I don’t want to compare him to a paper towel roll—
to any other object, for that matter—but as long as he retreats
into himself, refusing my help, how can I not see his body broken?

His spine’s a cracked telescope, fractured kaleidoscope,
revealing little in its lens, in its limited lightshow:
a glimpse of the brilliant borealis of his upbringing,

a glimpse of his future—colored slides in the light?
I imagine pressing an ear against his sunken chest,
a smashed treasure chest harboring, I hope, an ocean’s lullaby,

an ocean’s laughter. But now I hear him—
snores hoarse, whimpers raspy—begging to be more,
to be firm as muscles, firm as fat filling dead space.

Tomorrow we’ll talk. He and I will talk about this tomorrow,
before he fades forever like a breeze in the trees outside.
Until then, I close the curtains, tucking the moon into bed,

snuggle down under the covers, dark as an ossuary,
and dream of him—his smile wide as the crescent moon,
his once bulky body now protected in the warm plastic of my arms.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

Former poetry editor and longtime gay author Jacob Butlett (he/him) holds an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. In 2012 he earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key for his fiction, in 2017 he won the Bauerly-Roseliep Scholarship for literary excellence, and in 2018 he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for his poetry. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Word Fountain, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china.  

Photo: kaluci