Don’t Be Perfect
If I didn’t run from home
and fall onto a university’s doorstep
no knuckles to scar my jaw or steel toe in my sternum-
I wouldn’t have made it to the bus, the gas station
that doubled as our favorite coffee shop.
I left behind blood on the drywall, a town that hated me
for no other reason than their excuses & Long Beach
is a gang of misfits who have found an unlikely home.
I walked the streets, even the alleys everyone says
to avoid; they aren’t too bad, life is a game of cards,
and most players have been given an unfair hand.
It’s where I’d learn to use public transportation,
and realize the best narratives ever told, are recited
on peeling seats to an audience of eavesdroppers.
There was one about a drug lord, a medium, musician,
& that’s all anyone could remember.
The city is loud, engines are idle, drills upend concrete,
and yet it all coalesces into a lullaby as mechanical
wanes become countryside birdsong.
Our eyes were caught in a whale line, each of us
on opposite ends, yet we didn’t know which one.
I grabbed your hand, and inspected every callous,
you kissed my lips & told me not to worry. I used
to detest vacancy, the shady motels, dim parking lots,
but soon began to enjoy empty places. “Look,” I said.
He walked away, and sometimes those eyes are present
on the boardwalk, but they’re settled on someone else.
This is how it goes, to love and be loved, juxtaposed
with the moment you’re alone again, unsure if it was
ever real to begin with. The silence, loneliness, void.
It was real, dear wonderer. Serendipity & romance,
first there is chance, and then connection, and hopes
that this barrier will last, where other levees have broken.
Don’t look away from the wreckage, it is there,
and will always burn, as you will never forget
those who have stolen the safety of continuity.
The scars are not to be hidden, no one has ever
demanded perfection from a graveyard. Let us
stroll together, and as the sun sets, touch had
will be taken away. Relish the hourglass passion,
and when it is gone, take pride in blemishes:
the firestorm is everywhere and you do not fear it.
Brandon Shane is an alum of California State University, Long Beach, where he majored in English. He’s pursuing an MFA while working as a writing instructor and substitute teacher. You can see his work in Acropolis Journal, Grim & Gilded, All Existing Magazine, Bitterleaf Books, Remington Review, Salmon Creek Journal, BarBar Literary Magazine, Discretionary Love, among others. Find him on Twitter @Ruishanewrites