essay on crying in public

Sam Sax

i’m bent
over the sidewalk weeping
outside the public theatre
you stand above me
horse built from a father’s beer cans
you still have that other man’s mouth on you
i can taste it
with the back of my hands
it’s my fault
always is
i say do what you will
+ your will is done
so what i was born drunk + mean with my teeth knocked out
so what my first noise was crying + i’ve been going-strong ever since
the other man has a name
i hate it
he has a mouth + fixed-gear bike + hiv
+ you sat on his couch waiting for him
to say anything
that you’re pretty
or nice
or have nice sneakers
then you leapt in his body + lived there a while
maybe brushed your teeth or ate a spoiled piece of fruit
you came back to me
with your house keys out
the ones i had cut for you
said you couldn’t stop
thinking of me
how he tasted too sweet
cut flowers in chemical powder
candy souring in heat
how glad you are to live
where everything feels safe
basic real-estate
my house + bed
a thin sheet of latex
my chest a coffin to store your futures in
how bad does the news have to be before you get to shoot the messenger / how can we bury the hatchet / when it always ends up in my back
when you tell me
he emptied you
like an animal hide
i’m fine
until i’m inconsolable
in public + you’re offering vacant comfort
how bad he was in his body
how much it hurt
how you used protection
+ i can’t help but think
how terrible the name trojan is
in the story the horse breaks
inside the city + war-crazed men spill out
for revenge
so what people are staring
so what we’re on our way to the theatre
to see a play where everyone dies
i don’t know why i’m crying either
maybe i can’t bare to look at you
covered in mouths
maybe it’s just the sidewalk pulling the salt out of my head
maybe i can’t see you now without also seeing you dead