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Wine-Induced Laughing Fit photo

I keep eulogizing everyone the moment I meet them
you: a ghost before me, slowly becoming real
before fading away again.
I write Haley, saying I’m on my way to Connecticut
but my phone changes it to connectivity.
years ago I made a playlist for the hour ride to your place
called driving to 134 and sometimes I put it on now
just while lying in bed and I can feel the wind in my hair
the taste of tobacco & the remarkable feeling of incoming love.

an afternoon eavesdropping on conversations,
I always feel so abandoned
when they leave without saying goodbye
so I come home to you to fill the silence
mugs covering the desk, half-drunk coffee
I always sip all the way through the day until it’s evening
“you’re bad at finishing beverages that aren’t alcoholic,” you told me
I took it as a compliment: to be the object of your observation,
a specimen to be studied by you
but I fear that’s all I am
where is the line between curiosity and love?

when I went to Boston I left my hotel as the sun descended
just to be followed by an eager grad student 
who had your name & wanted my number
luckily we were going different ways,
he home & I across the glimmering river to acquire a White Claw.
when I told this to Colette, she said, “you collect Ryans 
like rare Pokemon.” the winter wind almost blew me away.
the night before I dreamt of a knife in my hand 
and an urge to use it. instead I kept a cigarette
between my fingers and embraced Alex outside an Irish pub
and he said we hadn’t seen each other in five years. It made me feel old
to go that long without seeing someone, & it felt like nothing.
a group of old men made too much noise and I told Alex I was sad 
I would never experience that specific kind of brotherhood. 
later, after a night of sweat and strangers, 
we met up again to chainsmoke in a parking garage & fuck 
in my hotel bed after a wine-induced laughing fit. fragments of him
trying to kiss me goodbye, I dramatically hid my face, whimpering.

in my fantasies you hold my hair back while I vomit
in the hospital my uncle says, “you don’t have to be a starving artist.”
I can’t escape the clichés, 
smoking on the back porch when my mom’s away.

image: Danielle Chelosky