Friendly Fire Perfume

There’s a man
dressed in sawdust and leather
who lives in the corner of this park
and knows more of me
than he realizes

He saw me
the day that I ran in a straight line
until I could feel my legs leaving me
one by one
until I could feel the sun’s talons
tearing at the back of my neck

Saw me
the day that everything crumbled
like the last saltine cracker in a plastic sleeve
and I sat behind a bench
trying to catch some kind of poem on my tongue

Saw me
the day that I just needed a receipt
proving that I was still the primary resident of my body
(that I hadn’t been drifting down a river
for so long
that the skin had lifted off in one swift motion)
I made a list of things
that made me recognize my own face
and finished a journal with a watercolor painting on the cover
and far too much hopelessness
stuffed into its stomach

To the man in dust and leather,
forest librarian
leaf snap protection bureau

Tell me about the girl
who wore motorcycle boots with her night gown
tell me about how she was every teacup
in your mother’s china cabinet
smashed onto the floor
and mosaic duct-taped
back into a fist
skirted in sunflower petals

Tell me about how she was the smell
of whiskey and baby powder
the smell of every fireplace burning through the night
spitting a blanket of friendly fire into the air
on nights that you snuck out to meet at the gas station
and sat under a flannel blanket
talking about zodiac signs
that you didn’t know much about

You two were every scraped knee
and lonely night
poured into a copper kettle
mixed with sugar
and boiled until your doubts caramelized
and you could both agree
without blinking
that there was nobody else
you’d rather wander through

I’m sick of writing about myself
so if I take a seat next to you
would you tell me where she is?
behind the library card in your empty wallet?
ripped in two pieces
in an abandoned drawer
in an abandoned bar?
somewhere in the mist
so that you only remember her
when it rains
and people in Los Angeles
get nostalgic enough
to turn on their fireplaces
and put her friendly fire perfume
back into the air?

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