Still finding friends in graveyards: the poem

I wrote this poem in 2010, and it was the inspiration for my memoir of the same title. 

Rosa Sophia

The church where some of my family is buried, in Pennsylvania. I took this photo in high school and developed it myself.

The church where some of my family is buried, in Pennsylvania. I took this photo in high school and developed it myself.

Hot cup of coffee on a cold morning.
The small comforts are all that I need.
I need no one else but me.
A therapist would say that’s unhealthy,
I couldn’t care less.
When a dream manifests and then shudders
falls—you pick it up. There’s a hairline crack
in the glass. Everything is flawed. Everything
has been broken before. I don’t want to catch a chill.
And I won’t, not where the sun warms the beach,
not where the breeze rustles palmetto leaves.
Still finding friends
in graveyards.

Hot cup of coffee on a cold morning.
There’s a way to save myself from shadow.
It’s a matter of wanting it. When you can
come to terms with—the void your chest—
When you can come to terms with the flaws
in all aspects—of everything—you can traverse
the dry soil, and maybe the broken glass won’t
cut your feet. Drink your coffee.
Remember that dream.
Still finding friends
in graveyards.

I had some dark fantasy I was wandering
the streets. West Palm Beach, cloudy sky,
not so bright. Dark figures darted everywhere
crossing my path—cockroaches, larvae, mosquito
shit. I was looking for my future in an alley
looking for 45th Street. I found it, took a right,
I’d been told to meet a man about classes
so I could make a living picking engine grease
from underneath my fingernails.
Still finding friends
in graveyards.

I remember seeing a whore on the side of the street
she looked just a little bit like me.
Past the corner was a woman giving birth.
She already had three kids; this was the fourth.
I saw an Asian woman chasing a starving cat;
the animal jumped behind a chain-link fence,
because the woman was trying to eat it raw.
I kicked it away from her. She cursed.
The mother left her baby on the street
maybe it would be there when she came back.
Maybe it wouldn’t. I knew I would see her again.
Still finding friends
in graveyards.

45th Street turned into a dark road
I traversed it nervously, worried about the
crack addicts, shady characters, strange people
that watched me from beyond the scrub brushes,
peeking out from behind massive oaks
that hadn’t been there before. It was like
I had gone back in time. There were pines
and beyond that, hammocks of palmetto.
Up ahead, at the end of the dirt alley
was a cracker-shack, replete with palmetto
thatching and two dilapidated porches
that didn’t look safe to walk on.
Still finding friends
in graveyards.

The man inside handed me a sticker
I could put on my car.
It said student. And now that I had it,
it was time to go home. But by now,
I was lost. I had walked through the
bustling streets of West Palm Beach and
appeared in another time, long gone. Just blink.
Hot cup of coffee on a cold morning.
The small comforts are all that I need.
I need no one else but me.
Still finding friends
in graveyards.

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