An illustrative photo of a shadown of a staircase against a white wall.

For Fannin. 


and no, I still don’t understand what you meant – 

or what it means to be a man on his knees 

in the middle of an empty room 

while the sun comes up. 

But I think I see the same shadow, sometimes – 

she’s sheet thin – he looks down at his hands 

& where there is no young body 

there is no ash tray, no pitted mouth, 

no missing piece backed up into the corner –

where the only way out is through 

& so I laid down so much stone 

until I became stone &

only worthy of more than a dollar’s tongue 

if I’m running up the same flight of stairs. 


I have a recurring dream – 

a stopwatch starts 

at the time my brother recommends 

the name ‘Emily’ and stops 

when I reach the door – 

my open hands feel into the pale cloth

& then we both choke back the chosen bodies

of our Trojan War – too terrified 

of what we might become

or not become – 

10 years is a long time to forget 

you were already nailed to a cross – 

already founded a father – 

cut into with too many holes,

none wide enough to lay in & forget that – 

sometimes you can see it in his eyes – 

the way the whites surface 

to sunken moons –

like there’s only so many times 

you can look up 

without becoming a pitch-black night – 

only so many times you can kiss 

your own, empty palms 

without becoming a hollow tunnel

where everything you say & don’t say

goes to her & burns. 


I look up in a new city & out pours 

a new, blazing way to realise 

my points of entry & exit never change – 

I run through the hallways

& maybe this time

I can even touch the door – 

I raise my fist & start banging 

& the banging falls to silence.  

You’re already halved over – 

clutching the white. 

Unmaking the made bed

just to have a could have been – 

& there I am – 

even useless at being a shadow 

you can crawl into on bad days – 

on that day – but I was there. 

Listening to you 

and her 

and the world hum 


apart from me.

By Emily Pont