Poem 35 ± July 9, 2015

Billy Merrell
3½ Love Sonnets

Ben calls and you unfold
from your dream he says
I’m sorry for calling
so early
he says I thought
you should know that
I’m dying but you aren’t
sure if you are truly lucid
so you just sit there
dumb in the dim room
of sleep-going-
to-wake while

he starts crying
you are the first boy

he kissed first
morning after
a long night
without sleep first

sober grope so
you can’t save yourself
from feeling
like a first mistake

like a platform
onto which he
crawled up and from
which he has lost

his balance
you bend

a paperclip around
your finger he tells you what
he is going to do now drop
out of school quit
his job and move to new
orleans with some man you
have never met after months
without a word from him you
hear his voice
on the answering machine
and it comes at you
twice like the stutter
of a cd skipping
you erase it quickly

realizing you have
let him go
even after he stopped
crying and you said voice
thick with sleep don’t
talk like that it doesn’t mean
you’re dying.

Billy-Merrell-June-2014Billy Merrell is the author of Talking in the Dark, a poetry memoir (Scholastic, 2003), and co-editor (with David Levithan) of The Full Spectrum (Knopf, 2006), which received a Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Childrens/Young Adult Literature. He is a contributor to the New York Times-bestselling children’s series Spirit Animals (Scholastic, 2014). Billy lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his husband, the writer Nico Medina.