Mercurial

This poem won Third place in the 2017 2-Day Poem Contest

for John B. McLemore

We become each other, twenty-four

years and two thousand kilometers

apart. Hard to care about who begets whom

in a hot, Alabamian chapel, or a northern

Ontario church. Both of us, only-children, 

the bunk beds of our memories summer

camp dank, listening to hot breath

above us. Foundling queers, small town

trapped, online love attempts left

our hearts unroofed, groped in parking

lots or ghosted on. If it’s such a Shit Town

then leave. Our stories split. I left

and came back, he stayed behind 

with his mother, his maze. Roses

stippled his ancestors’ earth

in collapsing shadow. He built basements,

healed clocks, lived by sundial

motto. Inhaled so much mercury

his lungs were a daguerreotype, spilling

chemical sighs and bombastic, 

accent-thick tirades. My only mercury

in my sun sign, but still. I know

how hard it is to live when your thoughts

are the opposite of copacetic. John

absquatulated earth in a cloud

of cyanide, insisting on treasure 

that never was. Out in the woods

with a plastic bucket, gilding

the inside of his throat.

Published online July 13 2017.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.