To The Beautiful Souls Who Die Young

For John & Meghan.

I feel sick in my own skin
this is not what death is supposed to feel like,
not for the ones who are still living
still breathing this damn air
pretending
wondering
asking ourselves how we will continue on
just the same
without those other heartbeats
passing next to us in these tired halls
But we know we will.
And we did.
Somehow.
It was him
It was her
It was other nameless faces
lost to addiction
to mothers’ liquor cabinets
dirty needles
and fathers’ guns.
How could it be that I was here
ten yards away from his locker
reaching for a book
while he reached for the trigger?
How could it be that she was the body
next to mine in art class, laughing
borrowing my black marker
to tattoo a flower across her thin wrist?
How could it be that we were two beating hearts
in this same town
same hall
same street corner
both longing
for a way out?

I still think about the both of you
when I pass our high school,
when I drive across the Midwest,
windows rolled down
my arm hanging lazily
from the driver’s side.

I hope that wherever you are,
you got out
you escaped
you aren’t suffocating
anymore
and now, you feel free.

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