Poems I'm Glad I Never Showed Him

by Alexander Lane

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

She Asks for Something Hopeful

I reach into my pocket

searching

not for the cold-jagged teeth of car keys

            —I was going to see him,

            the autodidact—

not for almost empty key lime chapstick

            —on our one and only coffee date I took the plastic wrap

            of the cap and frayed the edges small—at first—then

            larger—like a flower slow splitting itself—

                                       —apart—

not my school ID

            —which is so foreign

            the dining hall lady who tells me to live the dream

            secretly suspects me of theft:

            she wonders who I am impersonating

            not myself,

                        she knows—

but a piece of gum

unchewed

unwrapped

a white square

            —I was going to use it tonight

            before I pursued him—

an artifact

            but I never saw him

                        and he never asked where I was

                        or how I was

            Or if

I take it out

and hand it to

her

            I still know hiw middle name

Here you go!

I say with a smile

            I do.

I had one extra piece

            Or if

            I finished the books he

            recommended

It must have been for you!

            I did.

                        In case you see the autodidact, let him know.

Town

Full of orange lights like little stars

I can’t focus on,

full of unlit leafy trees

waiting out the summer,

full of something I’m no longer seeing

but imagining—

maybe.

 

A light flashes on

a street I cannot name

is empty

I call it Sometime Soon

 

The hills in the distance

lie quietly

flirting with the darkness

fusing with the black

horizon.

I witness

The Coal Kiss.

 

The bridge pushes light over the river

for late night

—early morning—

middle of the night

middle class

just-getting-by-as-long-as-nothing-goes-wrong working folks.

I wonder if they’ve been set free

yet.

I name them Freedom Seekers.

 

They sit

in cars and on couches and under roofs

a part of this little place

this small population

this piece of

“I’ve never known anything better”

a cozy

“I can’t wait to show my kids where I grew up” a white-picket fenced in

zoo of overworked

orange lights

and empty streets

they wouldn’t possibly walk at night.

in confession

that first time i woke up

next to you and wondered if this

                       would go

                    and it did go

            — oh how it went by —

i said to my best friend:

not that I am so delusional to think he is different

than any other,

one more month and we’ll be having this same conversation

about someone else

 

probably.

 

as if to dispel truth with mocking premonition

i was right

i wish i could swallow those words

have you ever felt such horror

— oh how it aches into your gut —

           that last soft moment

                we held in arms

                    those tears

                       i could

                         not

                        force

you could not stop

why did we let  go

 

our last lines

in robotics and pleasantries,

a nod out the door

i am sorry

— how it sounds so processed —

          to have been

                    so convincingly stoic

          it is of my many

Contact UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity

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