Collapsed into you outside of baggage claim
in Pittsburgh. We sandwiched at Primanti
Bros. where you picked at the bread, said
you were already home
sick, jet lagged, but a promise
was a promise and Pennsylvania
had taken its toll on me; the ice kept on
short circuiting the hot wires of my soul.
You became my passenger
but only for twenty-seven hundred miles.
Each exit number calibrated another
bad decision, another cross country move –
the truth and dare of California beckoned:
I regretted my decision by Ohio.
In Grand Island, there was blood
on the lamp shade in the motel room, evidence
I’d been this way before. In Wyoming, you had
side effects from your chemo shot, sprayed
the window and dash with puke. I pulled
over, panicked in a Valero parking lot.
I counted backwards with the Throwing
Muses on the radio; they sang while I reached
into the trunk for a bottle
of 409 and a roll of Bounty. I scrubbed
the glass, the upholstery while you echoed
apologies and vows to have my car detailed
in Sacramento. But I couldn’t get rid of them:
the indelible fingerprints of the invisible
boys like you.
David-Matthew Barnes is the author of several novels and collections of stage plays and poetry. His acclaimed screenplays have earned many awards including a 2017 Los Angeles Film Award. He has written over fifty stage plays that have been performed in three languages in ten countries. His literary work has appeared in over one hundred publications. He has been an educator for more than a decade. He lives in Denver.