Heavily clothed, we walk damp halls.
I am what came after, what comes before.
Only King Henry’s affairs are emergent:
Wives, the howl for a son, stone walls on all fronts—
Between us. The rest of us feast on fate, our worthiness
changeable in an instant. Proofs of my guilt: the lover
Returned to abscond with me; tales of incest
(My own brother); Smeton, my innocent admirer.
Our marriage document—a prop I knew could kill me.
Forget the heaviness of this dark place, forget my body
Good for one thing. I’m property like his tapestry
of the Battle of Agincourt. I tell myself I don’t fear death
because I no longer matter, yet claw the walls ‘till blood drops.
I’d rather have a kiss on my little neck I jest with my lone maid.
The cannon booms. On the scaffold in the Tower of London
I say to the people: I came here to die.
I have a personal triumph: in my third eye:
my Elizabeth—little cherub whose god will be abundance.
Nocturne on the North Shore
We sense Lake Michigan breathing behind mansions. We joke every time about the line from Dr. Zhivago where the official says fourteen families could live in such a large house. We want to share more than we have as we walk the streets of Evanston barely lit by the muted historic street lamps. I didn’t know then how much you meant. I wanted as a child still—any shiny, moving thing. But you are becoming a poem I can’t memorize twirling in my head, throbbing. Being so young, you open yourself more easily—a shaft of light I barely see in the limelight of my wanting to glow myself. When I say I have to go home, your face falls. I never pass up an opportunity to distance myself, to hide in the darkness swallowing Sheridan Road as you hang your head and I fathom but don’t fathom the depth of your disappointment. I can’t imagine anyone feeling they want to be with me that badly. We imagine the waves here on the perfect, lonely sidewalk. When we part, the night paws at my leg like a needy dog. I picture you hugging the pillow you want to belong to me.
Photo of Sydney Aiello
a Parkland School shooting survivor kills herself (NBC news)
Seated in lotus wearing striped leggings
And an “evolution” t-shirt, you smile
Next to a large wooden sign reading LOVE.
A Buddha on a table in the background, a gong.
You look happy, here, in the now.
What’s it like to be nineteen?
Not all heart emojis and dorm parties
For a survivor carrying all that guilt.
It’s too much sitting in classes now:
Echoes of the horror, body memories,
Panicky fear you haven’t survived.
That you used a gun
Another of life’s ironies—
Forced far from a coping self.
How hard you tried
To heal yourself, the world:
Food drives, petitions, banners.
Does a safe place exist?
As my friend wrote: Love is never enough,
I tell you,
Not even in the greatest of novels.
Marc Frazier has published poetry in over a hundred literary journals. He has also published memoir, fiction, essays and reviews of poetry collections. Marc, the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a best of the net. He is a Chicago area LGBTQ writer whose books are available online. He is active on social media especially his Marc Frazier Author page on Facebook. He endorses Feeding America.