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© Ben French, 2017

After contemplating suicide

I just want rest. I just want one day
where my voice feels smooth again.
Where words still feel like rocks
but now at least are slick with rain. Honestly, 
I just want rain, want southern thunder and lightning
and is it so much to ask for it all 
to roll over the field that I call my body 
on a bad day? I just want a body
I can lie down and take a nap inside of. Otherwise,
I want no body. It isn’t safe. I want air or something
like smoke to disappear into. I want to disappear.
I want the hands of every abuser torn off, thrown 
in the Mississippi until they outnumber the fish,
floating like flotsam for the whole city to see
until we have a new kind of crisis of hands to worry about.
When I am alone in bed, I want to feel 
alone in bed. I want bodies to mean something again — 
not vessel not container not receptacle
not another man’s mine all mine.
I want to pack you up in a box marked Bedroom 
and forget to put you in the truck when I move. 
I want a nice copper pot. 
I want love and I don’t want anything 
but love I mean I don’t want
to sound demanding but sometimes I want it so much
my shoulder aches. The one you laid your head on
after your friends’ deaths (alleged) while the snow fell
in neat piles on the tops of passing trains (imagined). 
I want neat piles of ten million pairs of old shoes
to throw at the wall. Sometimes I want to be a shoe.
Sometimes the wall. I always want Django Reinhardt
to play at my funeral. And I want dancing please.
All over the grass. I don’t want death but sometimes
I feel it wants me. I want this all to make sense to you.
I want America before AIDS and I want America without AIDS now.
I want people who hold me accountable and people
I can hold accountable. Which is to say I want community.
I either want a cure for psychopathy or a remedy
for the destruction it makes of innocence.
All I’ve ever wanted is a less painful way of surviving. Really.
I want Mike Mills to make more movies
but only if he wants to. I want peaches, puppies, pies.
I don’t want to sound greedy but I want murals covered 
in graffiti covered in murals covered in graffiti 
covered in murals. I want walls only
to take them down. I want to soften. I want to be cared for
by a sign painter’s hands. I want a universal pronoun,
want binaries to break like a fever. I want to feel like this poem
is doing something. I want a bottletree in a garden
calling me home. I want me again. Or I want home.
Can I be both? I want language to rest like mist over lilacs
and lavender. I want the lakes to be lakes again, not
reminders. Does that make sense? I want this city
to feel like everyone’s again, not just yours.
I’ve lived in this basement for ninety three years
and now I want to leave. I want to see a bundle of balloons
lost to the sky returned, one for every time you touched me
and I didn’t say no. N-O written across the blue
sky saying what I couldn’t—a word, a complete 
truth—for people to find among them and believe. 
I want sex: I want to feel safe. I want to know if, 
in the space between two bodies, two different worlds 
can exist simultaneously. Now, I want different things. 
You say you want me you say you want this you say you want 
to bloom for me, rosebud
but I don’t. I never did. 
I want to kill you but I don’t want your ghost. 
I want to unlearn you. I want to unlearn what I was taught 
wanting was. I want need I want unfolding I want
a more gentle becoming I do. I want a jug of sun tea snug
on the windowsill, a prism, light deckling elegance on the walls
like dance. I want time, slowly, before my mom dies
and my dad dies and the toy trains in the old basement
veer off the tracks lining the walls, fall
from the shelves, crashing into the concrete with finality.
I want flowers in the cracks in the sidewalk.
I want to forget. I want graveyard flowers
to stay pretty forever. I want the earth to look back
at its own beginning, all the fire, ice, meteors
and astroids, time-space continuum, string theory
memories caught in dark sticky webs. How it spins
a world of all this—everyone, everything—spins 
like a top on the edge of a table, traversing the line 
between two existences, up and down, razor’s edge 
right there, somehow, forever.

24/7 Prevention Resources:

If you are questioning suicide or self-harm, these organizations are here to help. You can call, text, or chat online 24/7 with an advocate who will hold space for and listen to you for as long as you need. They’ve helped me, and I know they will absolutely help you, too. Much love. — Ben

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–8255

Trevor Project Lifeline (LGBTQ youth): 1–866–488–7386

RAINN, National Sexual Violence Hotline: 800–656-HOPE (4673)

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