Poem for Paul Who Never Forgets My Birthday Even Though I Never Remember His

By Alyssandra Tobin

paul says                                careful with the benzos  
& I’m like                                                  I think of you
whenever                 my therapist brings em up      &
he’s like aww                     dunno if sweet’s the word                     
but it’s nice                                        to be thought of   

okay    sure     let everyone see  my cute belly     let
everyone know                    I covet some people I’m
supposed to hate                       paul’s stupid meth’d
out calls unbearable       his empty bottles his days
& months       wild-eyed                  & away

once                                we wore each others jeans  
his tiny gold waist                   in my teen girl pants 
now    on the phone                      he says what’s up
ya fuckin guinea!           he teaches me to play iron
man      he gives me that   ninth step apology  that
making                                  of meandering amends   

me     so  scared  of  dying                &  him  always                                     
chest deep in it                          I sit so quietly       a
very good dog                        in her dim little room      
but he            gives me cocky courage                  he
gives me  warm love        that boston street salt
kinda love              that let’s never brawl kinda love    
that I’ll kiss your dirt love          that I’ll help you lie
to chicks love       that mall parking lot love      that
if I’m a blight                     you’re a blight kinda love    
that noogie     that cackle      that snakebite     that
augur        that    yeah                          I’ll call you on
your bullshit pastures               if you call me when
my dumb pig jumps her sty         off to somewhere
cleaner than both                    our loud green yards


Alyssandra Tobin was grown on Boston’s North Shore. Her chapbook, PUT EYES ON ME NOT LIKE A CURSE, is forthcoming from Quarterly West in 2022. Her work does or will appear in Poetry Northwest, Puerto del Sol, Four Way Review, and elsewhere.

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