Somewhere inside me it is still that day in August.
Three Crips leave six different gray footprints
on my white Dead Kennedys tee shirt. I’m sitting shotgun
in your Taurus, purple ink spreading under my left eye,
the right side of my jaw swelling
like a balloon filled with spit.
I have no idea how to write a poem.
You have not yet collected a skyscraper
of stolen stereos on your bedroom floor.
I haven’t stopped returning your pages.
You haven’t been pulled over and covered the hoods
of two police cruisers with your collection of weapons.
I haven’t been on television for the poem I wrote
about the fight. You haven’t enlisted. I haven’t gone
back to school. You haven’t come home to a Dear John letter.
You haven’t reenlisted. I haven’t moved
to a home so safe the only shots in the air
are sent from fingertips and are intended
as congratulations. I haven’t met you for drinks
to catch up on old times. I haven’t received
an email that you have been killed in combat
from my ex-girlfriend whose house
you helped me move out of. Matt,
somewhere inside myself all my clothes
still have spikes on every available surface.
What I have to say has gotten me kicked
in the mouth. What I have to say
will get me flown across the world.
My face is becoming unrecognizable
in your rearview mirror. You tell me
about the nickel-plated .44 you have
under your mattress.
I tell you it’s cool, but thanks.
Matt, I tell you thanks.
—GEOFF KAGAN TRENCHARD