masquerader's manifesto

we will talk though okay

sitting on the sidewalk holding my front teeth in my hand thinking about your scarred body and wanting to run my fingers across it feeling like i got punched in the stomach and i want to jump off something tall i want to feel my bones break want to feel your arms around me want to throw up or punch a wall or kiss you and feel dirty afterwards. i want to leave my mark on you and it might just be another scar. can we just keep this simple and fuck in the bathroom or the stairwell so i can go home and scrub myself in the shower to get the guilt and your smell off my skin. i know you’ve thought about my hands where no one else’s have been. let’s drag each other down this summer i don’t care anymore i’m ready to fuck things up i always knew it would go like this

this might be who we are

we fight. i want to tear
your fucking hair out but also
i want to be the one to brush it
out of your eyes or
give it a trim when it gets too long.
want to split the skin on your cheekbone and
patch it with a butterfly bandage
break your nose and clean you up on the bathroom floor.
i’ve seen your face crumble and
i know maybe i have left scars.
in between all the words there are things that we aren’t saying
underneath all the silence there’s things we might be missing out on
for every time i’ve imagined knocking your teeth out
there’s another where i’ve imagined you smiling at me.

i would read this at your funeral but i know everyone would get mad at me

this was before i was born but i’ve heard a lot about it and i know

that all you ever wanted was that mercedes-benz

glittering atop a pile of night shifts driving around the airport and

empty liquor bottles like your hungarian-canadian version

of the american dream. ‘that car’s not built,’ you’d say,

‘it’s engineered,’ and you’d probably take another drink.

fifty years since you married

your coming-to-canada sweetheart, met her on

the boat here and started your (shotgun) life, and my uncle drove that car

from california or arizona or wherever he’d found it by accident during

his fiftieth birthday road trip with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window

and you threw the keys back and told him to drive it away and before

the engine ignited you were gone. that’s how it always is,

whether behind filmy eyes or the wine on your breath or

the harsh corners of your voice through an accent

i can’t always understand, you’re hiding, gone before anybody can get a grasp.

men like you aren’t built, they’re engineered, and i know your little sister

couldn’t keep anything down until she died and i know your parents

sent your dog away somewhere bad and i know

somewhere underneath years of sitting in the same chair drinking

your homemade wine that looks and smells

like gasoline from old 7-up bottles is someone i’ll never meet.

your teeth are falling out now and i don’t know if or when i will see you again

but what i’ll remember most about you is how you used to yell at me

in a dizzy mix of english and hungarian when i coloured outside the lines.

somewhere there’s a bunch of pictures of us from that summer and we’re all smiling

the dirt here is red like sunset

(red sky at night, sailor’s delight)

and it stained all my shoes and some of my shorts

and the bottom of my bathing suit 

(two-piece, i’m too tall for one pieces)

and i rode my bike through the campground today all by myself but

i fell and it hurt a lot and when i looked down

my elbows and knees were dripping with

maple syrup tree sap like we learned about in science

but it’s not sticky enough and it’s reddish and it smells sick

like dirt and worms and copper and heat and i hear

bugs buzzing right inside my ears almost like the ringing

i’ll hear tomorrow after my cousin holds my head down

under the water in the pool (warmer than the ocean)

and he doesn’t let me go till my dad’s hollering (ryan what the hell

are you doing) and i can only see little pinpricks of 

light weaving like ufos inside my eye sockets

and i’m gonna puke in the pool oh god i can’t puke in the pool they’ll

make my mom and dad pay a fine or something and everything

smells like red dirt and red blood and bugs squished (sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry)

under the wheels of my bike while i ride it around in circles


periwinkle blue and edged with razor blades

more dangerous than roses because no one knows

how deep you can cut if someone brushes

up against you carelessly. the cold pale flesh

of your petals is so like veins beneath paper skin yet

brutal enough to slice an artery. you will never forget so 

why waste time trying?


i didn’t tell you because i didn’t want you to know.

i didn’t open my mouth because i didn’t want you to see

the worms that will slither from my parted lips as soon as i

breathe a word of the decay that is deep in my brain. it’s like

the serotonin has spoiled into something black and oily and it’s

sliding across synapses like a dark secret and it’s whispering

to my limbic system, telling it softly and forcefully not to indulge

in basic drives, every minute of every single day. there is too much

and too little happening inside me all at the same time, too many 

cobwebs around my frontal lobes and hard little beetles running circles

around my central nervous system. they say cockroaches

can survive any apocalypse so i know soon they will be

all that is left of me and i won’t be able to hide the way they scuttle 

around under my ribcage anymore.


i know when you’re sick you go see a doctor but

they would just tell me to go home and come

back when i can count my ribs and the

knobs of my spine so that’s what i’ll

do. a quick google search of the

word ‘anorexia’ will yield all

sorts of nasty side effects,

not the least of which 

seems to be fading



i think i’ve been writing you this poem since the day we met

but i still can’t make the words fit.

when i think about you

what i remember most is the way your voice broke

on the last word in the sentence ‘i feel so incredibly small’

and what i wanted to do was kiss you

and what i did was wipe a tear from your cheek 

with the pad of my thumb;

i don’t think anyone’s touched you in a long time.

i think the feeling of hands on your skin

would do you good.

in my head there are one hundred more stanzas

to this poem but you are too vast

for them to cover. you said

you feel small but to me you are



we are spending our days all fucked up and laughing

and i wonder if anyone else comes home with the urge to slice open their skin

we go to class and we study and we are preparing for a life

of paying mortgages and living in big houses and being Members of Society

but we smoke and fuck our days away and we don’t realize

or ignore the fact that if we keep going like this

some of us will not make it

flunking out or dropping out or dying, fucking up too bad

things are happening and we are too busy kissing

each other on the mouth to notice them and is that really

a bad thing? are we comfortable with this?

if i waste away before your very eyes i think you

will just laugh and pass the lighter my way

insomniac baby

sing me to sleep with the sound of you clicking

a lighter over and over again trying 

to get a flame. i see you in short bursts like

gunfire a heartbeat at a time before the flame

sputters out. it is drafty and i am wrapped

in the sweater i’ve been wearing for three days

on my back in your bed watching shadows

on the ceiling and the contours of your face.

sing me to sleep with whispered curses and 

the unscrewing of a bottle cap on something strong

and dark. a lullaby cacophony of shuffling in your bare feet

across the kitchen. i want to tell you to come to bed

but i can’t stand the sound of you sighing next to me until

4.30 every morning


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