A quick disclaimer: this poem is very much in the “first draft” stages. I definitely will go back to it in the future. This is just the version I’m performing at a poetry slam called “In Transit” on Saturday. In many ways, this poem is still “in transit”–neither here nor there–but I’m hoping with performance it’ll get somewhere.
As a side-note, the title of the poem is taken from two mixes, which you can listen to on 8Tracks here and here. To get a full break-down of the “musical” that is “Requiem For Fish Car,” you can also visit this link to read the relevant lyrics.
“Make me a mix-tape,”
I challenged you, once,
“I’ll send you mine.
My stacks are deep.”
for you said songs are chapters
and mix tapes, stories.
This one would be ours–it was a musical.
I called it “Requiem for Fish Car”
Because your beat-up Mitsubishi smelled
like a wet market.
There were two acts.
Each song was a moment, detailing,
the birth of our friendship
to the way I thought it would end—
which was never.
Because nothing ever ends.
Little did I know that some things do.
Like “Watchmen.” Like “Harry Potter.”
Like a mix tape,
cutting off to dead air…
Yours was called “A Far Flung Heart”
And it made me cry,
because between “Mayday Parade” and “Watsky”
It was like you understood me
Had mapped my aortas
And saw where the scars were.
And you were not afraid.
But you were not afraid.
Instead, you saw the scars as simply beams
to build a bed in,
a nest in the rafters of my–
You slipped in and built
so quietly that I never noticed construction
until the structure was nearly finished
and it was all I could do to call, “HALT!”
I was not ready to become a home.
But you were comfortable.
And I was comfortable with you,
which, in a world where
Prince Charming is dead
is all a girl could ask for—
or so I believed. So what if it was I
who ran after the us? I am a classic workaholic,
used to putting in the hours,
watching the fruit of my labours
blossom and grow. Little did I know
I was planting seeds in my own mind
and watering them, transforming boy into boy,
the abstract ideal composed of disembodied arms
and warmth and that one time,
when you held me when I cried—
The only time I ever remember, ever,
that you’d come running for me.
When you handed me a CD
full of songs in a language
I couldn’t speak, I should have seen the signs
that we were mis-communicating—
when we communicated at all.
Most days, it was an endless back-and-forth;
words “making love” with no meaning:
a constant cycle of pick-ups and put-downs.
As if it was as simple as “Go with me.”
And in truth, it almost was.
Each time you asked I wondered why I kept saying
“No, not yet, not now, not you.”
I was afraid that I had led you on
too far into open water
and there was no hope of swimming back—
we had to drown together.
When I imagine her, I imagine her sliding
into those warm arms; her body, slender,
cutting through the water,
floating, falling, her red-black hair
wrapping your fingers,
lips and limbs scissoring open,
lust and lies breathed in and out
against a soundtrack
of a mix; magnetic tape
unwinding beyond repair,
a sandbag thrown into my second act.
All the while, I had been there
the B-side to her A,
the so-called thrill of the chase.
Only you never did the chasing,
just your words.
And words had been enough…
until they weren’t.
Until the truth tore the nest
in the rafters of my heart down—
and half my heart with it.
I left your mixtape in a paper bag,
with the one black shirt you told me to keep,
and no note, only dead air:
as silent and unyielding as a “The End.”
It is for my own good, I tell myself,
and I know, but when
in the summer heat I catch the scent
of old leather and the sea,
I still think of you,
and the car-rides that won’t be,
and our musical, and how it might have ended—
because I once thought good things didn’t.
Like “Watchmen.” Like “Harry Potter.”
Like a good mixtape.
Like the story of punk boy and theater girl.