I said, listen to me, boy. Only the stars know.
And now you, fidgeting in all the air
like you fear for your neck. Still,
you’re young and youth explains away all,
except love. My love. I’ve a gift
but not for this. It speaks like a house fire.

Or a bullet into a bowl of oatmeal. If fired,
you’ve got a mess. And I do, I know,
and not one I thought I wanted, like a gift.
Stay with me, son. I’m not wasting air
for your benefit alone. I said, that’s all,
and walked off, shaking. It’s hard to be still.

It’s hard to know how to be still.
When I was little I felt I’d catch fire
if I was too quiet. Nothing’s changed at all.
There’s nothing worse than to know
my smoke signals go unheeded in the air—
she won’t look, speak, accept the gift

I made for her. Her going is my gift.
All that I’ll keep. Out to an old still
I’d go and drink until I forget it’s air
I need to live, air that fills me now like fire
nothing can douse. For all I know,
the ground beneath me is burned beyond all

knowing. Any of this getting through all
that thick head, boy? Love isn’t a gift.
Way off, you’re way off. I know
you hope it’s feathers flying and time stood still,
crowing from the roof, and gun-fire
meant to silence your song on the night air.

You’re not listening. That’s just hot air.
It’s torture. You’re finished, once and for all.
You might as well be old rags in a fire.
I’ll say it again: love wasn’t a gift
when I fell flat and hard upon it, and still,
I won’t dare let it go. It’s all I know—

like the air or the sound of my voice, my gift,
all bluster and not a bit of it still.
This fire could burn me alive. Who’d know?