Billy.

The night they tore you from the pages of their bibles and finally put you to sleep,
Your ashes came down like snow,
And a child who had never seen your face saw you falling from the sky and layed down on their back to make an angel in the powder of your bones.

From a window I watched the scene,
Though my eyes were still 2 flames and my ribs were still painted red, “They didn’t win”
I whispered as the childs arms built your wings, “They didn’t win”,
Look at that moon!

It was a pebble in your hand,
And tonight, you could skip it across that fog-drunk sea
So your heart casts a shadow in it’s light,
Until all they know of hate is that it could never beat the love out of you.
That when they dropped you into the grave you fell like a bucket into a well
And came up full.
Tied by intestines to the trunk of a weeping willow that had spent it’s whole life
Laughing at the rain.

I remember holding your dying body like a lantern in the dark,
Running my hand up and down the staircase of your spine,
Trying to squeeze enough life into you that I could tell you it felt like we were dying together.

And when they bring their evil to your grave
To pretend there is none of your blood in their lungs,
They will know that you were born into this casket,
But that you couldn’t pull the splinters from your soul any more than Christ would pull the thorns from his crimson head,
These demons can come a thousand times,
With their brown liquids and their needles,
With their hungry pockets and their empty mouths full of prayers to a god.
The same god that greeted you at his gates with his throat full of trumpets
And his tears full of shame.

Cause you knew what holy was.
You know that the soul is shaped like a bowl,
You knew the lies we try to fill it with
And we spill too often the orchards inside.

You told your lover that his shoes were tied with guitar strings,
And when you held his hand there was a violin in your chest,
There was a field full of sun,
There was a river full of gold
That you left to pick your sweet hearts from the trees
That kept uprooting tombstones,
So the names of the lost addicts would crumble into poems.

You asked me to write you down like this,
In case your ashes never made the news,
In case the coroner was full of shot guns,
In case the snow that fell on the tips of our tongues refused to melt away.
You wanted to say this to the kids hiding their heartbeats beneath snap bags & shame,
You planted a garden with your kiss
Way before you ever held a needle in your fist,
And don’t tell me you didnt, your boyfriend told me.
Friend, you opened the night with your teeth,
You loved so hard that when they press their ear to the track
The train they hear coming will still be your chest,
A rumbling harpoon,
A sky they could not bury, look at that moon!
You are a pebble in my hand,
A harmonica held to the mouth of the river where nothing, ever, dies.

I want to tell your brother that he looked like you on the day I found you, bleeding,
But I know he won’t sleep if I do.
His eyes still have wrinkles a thousand years older than his age,
He still carries himself like an ambulance with a dead soldier inside,
Still hoping it might get there on time,
But he didn’t get there on time.
For weeks his house screamed with the pain of the two of us clawing the floorboards like mothers
Who couldn’t stop trying to shake the ghosts of dead children awake.

And so I finally wrote your poem,
Because I ask too much of your memory,
I act too much like nothing has changed,
And I’ve stopped believing that your dreams might make it out alive.

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