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We were young once
made of sticks and living in houses of dirt.
I watched you play Outlaws and Cowboys
with all the other guys.
You were an Outlaw with finger guns
aimed at the sky in triumph.
The other boys could never touch your wild style
and left you once you began to grow.
So, you turned away from heaven

and set obedient and still on the foot of my bed
and watched me countdown
To the bomb.

In the winter of our teen years,
you traded in my bed for cars and the world.
You forgot about heaven and fingers,
knew only violence and success.
I spun in dresses of pink and gold
to wrangle your attentions;
turned myself house, home, and cosmos.
I won you in the end.

I was seventeen with a baby boy on my hip,
whose eyes couldn’t resist the temptation of heaven.
You were nineteen in muggy foreign lands,
with an eye trained down the barrel of a gun.
I dreamt you flowing under exotic women,
draping silk and spice into your tassels of blonde hair.
You once told me you dreamt of my bed
and my childhood counting.

We are naturally middle class.
You selling cars,
me making home and worry

through the days of our dying desire.
I felt tied to your Cadillac,

careening down dark paved streets.
I still sing love and count bombs in your honor.
Our children will never know of your far distant looks
at heaven or your accuracy with imaginary weapons.
The boy once brought to bed
sprouted to tall and bold
to be kept young and beautiful
Lost his cosmos in jungles.
Rain washed away my words and dresses
that I sent sailing up the coasts to keep you warm.

“I was young once, and so were you,”
You muttered on your death bed.
I sat, once again, counting the seconds till your shudder.
I asked if you still knew how to handle your hands.
You shot a look to heaven,
and you were spent.
We were young once
but never again.

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