He dreams that he is bulletproof,
that he can pass through violence, unscathed,
like a normal person through thick fog,
smiling as mist coils around his ankles

(i’m not afraid)

He dreams himself back to that day:
He sits at his desk, doing his best not to ruin his drawing,
failing,
sweaty palm sticking, warping the paper

The small fan beside him had a bend
in one of its blades,
the uneven thwacking of plastic on plastic
Ricocheting between his ears

(please? it’s only around the corner)

He wished he’d been the asshole brother,
that day,
When his youngest brother came in,
asking for candy money

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But they’d been fighting all day, his siblings,
the heat inciting all their tempers,
and he was glad for peace,
however brief

(stay on the sidewalk, he says)

He dreams that he is bulletproof,
dreams himself back,
to that day,
sirens yanking him from slumber,
to that street

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A cherry popsicle melts into a pool of syrup,
staining the cement,
the ground writhes,
alive with insects

(why is it so quiet?)

A crooked line of heat-distorted shapes
blocks the street,
a blurred barrier of black and white
and red and blue

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He knows there should be sound,
roaring fear and hatred
screaming metallic fury,
but all he hears is the ice-cream truck,
a tinny jingle fading around the block

(i told you to stay on the sidewalk, he says)

He crosses into the street,
reaches for his brother
I told you to stay on the sidewalk, he tries to shout,
you would be safe on the sidewalk
but the lie clings to his throat

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He reaches for his brother,
takes hold of his arms,
and feels his power transfer
when their skin touches

(the sun is so bright, today)

The bullets in his brother’s flesh
retreat,
twist back and out,
chiming against the street as they fall,
like beads of a broken necklace

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His brother’s wounds close,
and he blinks

(i said i wasn’t afraid)

They look back to the line,
the blur of shapes,
and smile,
turning their faces to the sky,
brushing the bullets from their cheeks
like raindrops in a summer storm

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His youngest brother snaps the candy bar in half,
offering the larger half,
before snatching his hand back
to drag his tongue along the chocolate

Raucous laughter,
and they run,
he chases his little brother
all the way home

(it’s only around the corner)

He could be such a little shit,
sometimes,
his youngest brother

——

I haven’t written a poem in quite a while and I felt like sharing. This one hit me on the way home from work and I wrote it down in the grocery store parking lot.