you are not by joel kopplin

You perhaps aren’t the match I meant you to be, small flame fanned out after too much heat and what’s left leaving in small threads on the closed air of the room. Your voice was perhaps not your voice when you called me on the phone and told me to come.
             You had a hat, I had a hat. You had a book by a person you admired from which you tried to live. I cannot read, but I liked to watch you hold it, liked to see you try and talk of images and their relationship to our suffering. I liked to see you try and talk of sex and its relationship to our death. It’s the bit you do best and I like to see it still, even now after I’ve seen it and looked through it and see nothing. I see you do it while I sit and you stand and they stand.
             “And if the devil,” you read for those who might hear you, for him and him and him and me, from the blue book with the face and the wet eye of want, “And if the devil is in the end only our own madness, if we come to tears, if we shudder in sorrow–or if we are seized…” you read and read and we watch: he and he and he and me, we watch you feel around phrases, paragraphs stacked and gathered with glue. And you. You have a hat. Those three? They have hats. “What we know about them,” you read, “enables us to say that they know what animals do not know: that they would die.”
             You perhaps aren’t the feeling of your fingers along my wrists, touch so good it’s like math. Your face is not the face I frame and hang from the wall of my room, the wall by the window to the east where the sun comes. And where I watch the light die in the afternoon I see your pretty face go dark and dry next to the others in a row. There your face is, though that face is not from you.
             You are not the noise of your house upstairs where I come to sit because you sit so close, because you continue to put your hand on my wrist. Your house where you have no mother during the day. I wish you would break the bones.
             At the top of the stairs you call above the song and we climb, he and he and he and me, we climb to catch you because you might get away.
             You are not the sweat on my lips while I watch you. Those three pull at the fabric fastened to your legs and I ask to see your dick but you don’t show me. They call you Shirley Temple and pull at your shirt so you will see them one at a time and no-one else. Him. Him. Then him. If I’m loud and look hard or use my fist: me.
             You perhaps are not the face I break, the mess, the sound of bones or the eyes you make when you see my eyes at last and no-one else. You perhaps are not the newfound silence beneath your stereo or the sun in the center between three and four at the window. He and he and he are still, still standing and sitting near your mattress. You are probably somewhere near all of these things you are not now, somewhere not far away. You were such a good thing it’s a shame.
Joel Kopplin’s stuff has been in places like Metazen, HOUSEFIRE, Apt, and Literary Orphans. His novella, Spaces, is now available from Outpost19.