We Put the Dog to Sleep

My parents said we could no longer afford him, so we put the dog to sleep –

I miss the times I’d throw the ball and he’d catch it in his mouth –

Or run after it – his tongue hanging out of his mouth –

So happy –

I miss that – I miss him –

He sat with me for hours – patiently, beside me, in my bedroom while I cried –

I was a sad boy

The pink liquid at the veterinary clinic – and he never breathed again

And I stood there and watched –

My parents told me it would be closure

My world collapsed into later-to-be antidepressants and benzodiazepines –

and then, later, methamphetamines and chemicals I can barely pronounce –

but I bought them –

His life ended in closing curtains, and I didn’t leave my seat –

and I still haven’t –

I’m waiting for the fucking encore with a bag of stale popcorn within my hands –

And I will not throw it away


As an adult, I look back at my childhood and –

like I tell my therapist –

I’m angry – I’m just so fucking angry

And I tremble, sometimes violently – no differently than I did as a child

We put the dog to sleep

I fucking hate the color pink – it’s repulsive and horrible – and I fucking hate it –

Did I already mention that?

Burn everything pink down in the fucking world to the fucking ground –

I have the fucking matchers and the lighter and –

I hyperventilate and the ice cubes in my hand aren’t bringing me back to the present –

They just fucking aren’t –

We put the dog to sleep

I walk into my therapist’s office – as I do every week –

I pay the $25 co-pay and sit down on the overly pillowed couch

“We put the dog to sleep”, I tell her – and she nods her head

She hands me tissues, as she always does

“Please tell me I’m not going to die alone”, I tell her – and then I ask –

“Am I going to die alone (?) – I don’t want to die alone”, I say –

But maybe I don’t deserve anything better –

And she hands me tissues, as she always does

We put the dog the sleep –

And I take another pill, and then another, as I have for years

We put the dog to sleep

And I miss him every day

I Write in Roller Coasters

This morning, I was thinking it might be smart to wear my Doc Martens –

Like I’m straight edge, but not an asshole or a racist – and I drink alcohol and smoke drugs –

What if the narrator isn’t the one you expect?

He or she or they are speaking – and one or none of them are obvious –

Whispers within the back areas of an opera house you aren’t looking at – not at the correct angle – if you are paying attention (. And ?)

What if this is the show – what if this is the entertainment?

What if there aren’t alternative angles and perspectives?

“Are you a homosexual (?)”, she asks me, as I sit in a chair across a large and empty desk –

without ornaments or plants or family photos or a calendar of puppies

“I like dogs and despise musicals and Barbra Streisand’s music is garbage –

and I, occasionally, sway hither and thither as I walk, though I try not to – it fucks with my manly image –

And I’m an alright dancer, though my feet are larger than graceful –

And I enjoy poetry and gentle music that carries me into fantastical landscapes” – I say –

I tell her, “No – I am heterosexual”, and her pen places a checkmark within the box marked “homosexual”. I audibly exhale dramatically and look at her disapprovingly with the intensity of Shakespeare

My younger brother is a young deer, beautiful – or, handsome, if you’d prefer –

he grazes upon the grasslands at the edge of town, and, on most Fridays, I visit him and give him top-of-the-line feed and he prefers it –

He is my biological brother – my mother named him gently –

He smiles – and I’m thinking, “I love you, Derek” – as he rubs his black deer nose against my jeans, and I know he loves me as I love him

“I’m allergic to no foods or medications”, I say.

My brother’s nose glows red – and I’m proud of him

I always knew he’d do great things

What if the narrator isn’t the one you expect? Perhaps of a viewpoint you wouldn’t recognize – and what would that even mean? I, sitting on a fully cotton off-blue office chair beneath a plain black and white drawing of mice – and it isn’t good – waiting to see if the painting drips with beauty or with envy –

what if this isn’t even the appropriate question?

What if this is the story? What if I am the narrator?

Shadowy and confusing and not always speaking in familiar tones and colors?

What if I’m not what you’re expecting at all?


What if I am not what you are expecting, at all?

My Friend Carol

Sometimes using a cliché, like –

“she shined brighter than all of the stars in the sky” is okay,

if you’re pressed for the right words to describe someone incredible –

and you can’t immediately think of better wording

There isn’t always a reason to use new words –

when there are words that already exist for this purpose –

Or – at least that is what I believe at this moment

My friend Carol was a bright and shiny diamond

We marched the streets together, demanding equality –

and her voice was loud –

like a car crash or sudden thunder

I use clichés because I am too sad to be creative today –

I don’t have the emotional strength to be clever

And, for today – they’ll have to do

Her heart was as big as the ocean –

wide and long with compassion that spread for miles

I’d call her – sometimes late at night and say,

“Carol, I just can’t” and she’d tell me I could,

when I’m ready

One starless night, her kindness and friendship led me to return the open bottle of too many pills to the medicine cabinet –

where it belongs – and where it remains

Fast forward seven years…

A Home Depot purchase with hope extinguished – like a glass jar over a small and dying flame or a glass jar covering a butterfly that is suffocating –

because there is no longer any air

and a few hours later,

Carol – my beautiful butterfly friend – lay still –

“Carol!”, I screamed when I got the phone call – it wasn’t Carol calling


Carol’s memorial bench is on the waterfront at Lake Olmstead in Augusta, Georgia –

and I’m visiting her today

All of the benches in the park look exactly the same –

but hers is the most lovely

So, I sit here, and I sit here, and I sit here

And begin to cry

“Carol”, I whisper,

gently and quietly to an empty sky with nobody listening

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