Billy-Ray Belcourt

Bad Lover

About semantics, too much has been made
of the difference
between mourning & melancholia
—I have stood at both sides
of a long decade
& my grief was the same arrow
clenched between
the same dead boy’s teeth.
Regret gives me context
the way a room without windows
drives us to find in ourselves
a kind of beautiful landscape.
Unsurprisingly, the past makes me
“painfully available”
to the world: In a stranger’s lap,
I was a toppled statue, I was time granulating into time.
Because I had just read Barthes,
I rubbed my language against his language.
The sound we made was reminiscent
of a human body. A human body is
reminiscent of a sentence
in that it too can taste like dust.
Everything I write I title A Lover’s Discourse.
Everything I do not write I title Billy-Ray Belcourt.
For a time, I was interested in the aesthetics
of loneliness & nothing else.
I believed an empty bed was a work
of durational performance art, that it was a map
decipherable only when glimpsed
through a fresh coat of saliva.
But tonight, my lover put his hands over his own eyes
as I pulled the condom
out of my body
the way one would a fish hook.
How a fisherman will wait until waiting itself
seems good enough a reason to live as any.
Remember, a man is a fable
that does not convey a moral, I said.
We must have looked ridiculous:
Our jeans still at our feet.

Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation. His books are This Wound Is A World (UMinn Press 2019), NDN Coping Mechanisms (House of Anansi 2019), and the forthcoming A History of My Brief Body (Two Dollar Radio 2020).
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí