but he’s a firecracker, that boy.
crackling spitfire mouth over freckled porcelain, shows up
piss drunk to a fight and leaves with knuckles worn red,
happiness violent-smeared across his face and you think, beautiful, you think, destructive, and you think
he is invincible.
he holds his chin high, teeth sharp.
head cocked just so, eyes hard like bullets.
bandages wrapped like a promise.
fists like a prayer.
it is not until you see the fuse stamped out,
not until the fight comes to him and he’s too sober for it,
not until you have to teach him how to cry, to spill sorrow
without shaking apart that you realize not everyone
has the luxury
of being vulnerable.
so slot your mouth against his, that boy you love.
smoke the unfurling terror out from inside his gut.
wrap your arms around him and think, like a promise, think, like a prayer, think,
be safe be safe be safe.
it is hard to live in this town, don’t you know?
it is easy to survive.
see, that boy,
he holds his chin high as though treading water.