You are currently viewing i’ve set myself on fire

i’ve set myself on fire

i’ve set myself on fire

for you i’ve set myself on fire
a hundred times
checking your emergency
responses

disappointments
continue
as my fever reaches dangerous heights
thoughts blurring
trajectory inverting back toward
blackness
thick
dark
loneliness
a story i learned as a boy
by the lake

knowing when to stop
give up
leave

and when to try again
optimistic
still starving in the silence
between kisses

she was right
there was no way
in
her heart was full and still filling
in her self-described
chaos beautiful
soccer tennis math reading bedtime routines
of single motherhood
and sons

but the fierce independence
that captured my imagination
a strong woman
was misguided and misconstrued
her constant vigilance
against all threats
forever
and
ever

it was her and her child
tangled in her unruly hair
where i hoped to find some purchase
each night
she returned to the big bed
smelling of Ironman shampoo

“i’m beat”
a telegraphed message
we can snuggle for a bit
then you’ve got to go
it was how she needed it to be
sleeping alone in a kingsized bed
in case
of
intruders

12/29/22

i am the poet of desire by john oakley mcelhenney

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