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I used to be a fag now I’m a checkbox.

The pen tip jabbed in my back, I feel the mark of progress.

I will not dance alone in the municipal graveyard at midnight, blasting sad

songs on my phone, for nothing.

I promise you, I was here. I felt things that made death so large it was

indistinguishable from air—and I went on destroying inside it like wind in

a storm.

The way Lil Peep says I’ll be back in the mornin’  when you know how it ends.

The way I kept dancing when the song was over, because it freed me.

The way the streetlight blinks once, before waking up for its night shift, like

we do.

The way we look up and whisper sorry to each other, the boy and I, when

there’s teeth.

When there’s always teeth, on purpose.

When I threw myself into gravity and made it work. Ha.

I made it out by the skin of my griefs.

I used to be a fag now I’m lit. Ha.

Once, at a party set on a rooftop in Brooklyn for an “artsy vibe,” a young

woman said, sipping her drink, You’re so lucky. You’re gay plus you get to

write about war and stuff. I’m just white. [Pause.] I got nothing. [Laughter,

glasses clinking.]

Unlike feelings, blood gets realer when you feel it.

Because everyone knows yellow pain, pressed into American letters, turns

to gold.

Our sorrow Midas-touched. Napalm with a rainbow afterglow.

I’m trying to be real but it costs too much.

They say the Earth spins and that’s why we fall but everyone knows it’s the


It’s been proven difficult to dance to machine gun fire.

Still, my people made a rhythm this way. A way.

My people, so still, in the photographs, as corpses.

My failure was that I got used to it. I looked at us, mangled under the TIME

photographer’s shadow, and stopped thinking, Get up, get up.

I saw the graveyard steam in the pinkish dawn and knew the dead were still

breathing. Ha.

If they come for me, take me home take me out.

What if it wasn’t the crash that made me, but the debris?

What if it was meant this way: the mother, the lexicon, the line of cocaine on

the mohawked boy’s collarbone in an East Village sublet in 2007?

What’s wrong with me, Doc? There must be a pill for this.

Too late—these words already shrapnel in your brain.

Impossible in high school, I am now t

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