John R. Beardsley

Asphyxiation: Aubade

The night you celebrated getting a restraining order against your father, you were doing keg stands in
          a pink taffeta dress;

you collapsed in the grass in a thrall of laughter. And, god, everyone there was so young. I was a
          short-timer,

hot off of nearly marrying someone I didn’t love, a month away from quitting the Midwest forever.
          I want to say

you looked like a sort of flower upside-down over the steel beer-barrel—the calyx of shimmering
          fabric, your legs

out at angles, stigma and stamen—but you didn’t. You looked overripe, familiar as a tomb; you were
          the twenty-two bones of our skull.

And as you wheeled and sprung around your actor friends, the strands of Christmas lights above the
          scene became alien, tropical

fish shining on the slow surface of the nearby creek. Later we struggled for breath—your grip on my
          throat so tight I could feel it for days—we ground our shoulder blades

into the glass-studded carpet. & I never told you I loved you but in the way I dragged you across
          rooms by your hair, stammering, naked, or when, because you asked

I hit you so hard your jaw came undone—I didn’t know what to do with your crying, but we fucked
          through it, anyway.

What of the spaces inside our bodies? The porphyries and slick yellow fat? What of the shrines we
          put up there?

Yesterday you told me over the phone that you are in love, that it is something. All of this
          now so far behind us

it seems like someone else’s story, like a film we’ve both seen where the actors’ names are forever
          at the tips of our tongues, I tell you I am happy.

Something real, you say. Jane, I have never split an animal down its center. I have never read the signs
          that boil in the still pulsing guts,

but I have loved so many people in all the wrong ways, and when I pray I can’t keep from
          laughing—I say: fuck it.

I have worn the blood-drawn shape of her hand around my throat like a crucifix. & if there
          is one beautiful thing left in my body, let it be picked clean and bleached.

John R. Beardsley is originally from Wisconsin and lives currently in Tallahassee, Florida, where he is a doctoral student in poetry at Florida State University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Makeout Creek, Miracle Monocle, and 42opus.
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