spoken poem shane koyczan

Tarot

The fool loves completely.

He stands with arms wide open, hoping to give away hugs for free.

He does not consider this work, he believes this is necessary.

Believes someone has to put a positive spin on the term arms dealer.

So he gives out hugs for free.

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To This Day Project -  Shane Koyczan

And if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror, look a little closer, stare a little longer. Because there’s something inside you that made you keep trying despite everyone who told you to quit.
—  To This Day Project by Shane Koyczan

The failing use of my right hand isn’t actually the failing use of my right hand, it’s just another way to tell the time. And I’m ticking. So I’ve been picking myself up at bars with a bottle in each hand, but I never give myself any play. I just make plans with myself for the day after next. By the time the sun swings back around into position I forget the context of why I asked myself out in the first place. Did I think I was going to score?

I let a stranger pour me one more. She says,” my name is Sara”. Doesn’t take much more than that to start a relationship. My darling Sara cleans rooms for a living, giving her youth and beauty to dirt and dust. Understands more than most that family must be the foot you put forward first, you must weather the worst together. But, having never met her family, she places love above all else, then protests that I use the word love too freely in poems, and I should really just say what I mean. And I suppose what I mean most is that; I’m trying.

She’s been buying me time on a maxed out credit card, arms scarred from selling her own blood to pay down the debt. Tells me she doesn’t mind going broke so long as I can give her a little sweat. She says, “try”. So I do my best impression of a pen, and when every problem looks like a page I commit ink to paper. And the worth of the words that come out determines my wage. I’ve been making enough to pay her the compliment of not quitting, of not sitting when standing is required.

She only asks that I put the effort in, and in return she’s willing to pin a paper heart to her chest, then do her best impression of a target. She says that effort is the Siamese twin of success. So when everyone else looks like a wrong answer, she says she’ll settle for being my best guess. So we lie in bed like a mess that someone’s been meaning to clean for the large part of a long while. We lie there like a pile of dirty laundry, and how we’ll ever come clean is beyond me. So we don’t. She says, “it’s supposed to be dirty, and if by the end you haven’t hurt me then you didn’t try”.

So I do my best impression of a surgeon, going in, cutting purple hearts out of my own, use my veins like thread. Then have hurt sewn to our skin like medals, because when the bleeding stops, and that dust settles, all we have are our wounds to wear like decorations upon our chest. Sara does her best impression of a war, tells me not to count my pride among the casualties because maybe faith means never keeping score. She says there’s more to effort than just switching gears, and in terms of what one should give in this life sweat holds more value than tears.

You have to try, and even though the failing use of my right hand means I’ll never land a knockout punch in the first round, life is composed of sound and fury, and whatever noise is left in me will be twice as loud when I try. So I plug myself into the idea of going the distance and I amplify.

My darling, Sara has a throat like a vase that sings her words into bloom. She’s got a voice like perfume. It’s been sticking to my clothes, so everyone knows where I’ve been sleeping. She’s been keeping me so close you could use my body for evidence; pull her fingerprints as proof that she’s been on top so often she’s starting to look like my roof. But a real sexy roof, and she doesn’t leak, unless you count the crying. She does that sometimes, worries that she’s just a back up plan.

My darling, Sara, I’ve lived long enough to learn too many choices can destroy a man. I will make no exodus. I’ll be around long enough to watch uncertainty bid us farewell, then echo our names into the crater caused by the impact of when our lack of conviction fell. You’ve never had to sell me on the idea of absolute certainty in the trustworthiness of another.

The first and only time you met my mother, mom said, “I like the way she looks at you”. And I echoed back to her that I liked it too. Eyes like recycle bin blue. Sara looks at broken things as if she can make them new, and more than a few times I’ve caught her staring. Caught her wearing a smile reserved for those busy making plans. Sara believes that distance is a fundamental that can be side-stepped by a piece of string and two tin cans, and I remember when my tin can rang.

They said, “there’s no family to speak of so love is next in line, and there’s not a lot of time, but she’s asking for her boyfriend.”

In the cab to the hospital I feel my heart bend as if bracing for impact. So I do my best impression of a man and face fact. It’s supposed to hurt. A doctor does his best impression of the truth, and spares me attempts to skirt around the issue. They can’t stop the bleeding, and the failing use of Sara’s heart isn’t actually the failing use of Sara’s heart, it’s just another way to tell the time. My darling, Sara, I was holding your hand when you died, and even though the failing use of my right hand prevented me from feeling you leave, I tried.

—  My Darling Sara, Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long