Happy birthday to us, from me: this is not a gift
I will remember you every August twenty-first
for every August twenty-first I get to see.
I will remember you every time there is
Providence, every time there is consequence,
every time I am dizzied by a cigarette breeze
blown, a spinning tornado of someone who is not you—
I will hear your tap tap tap knuckle kiss shock
the coffee shop window—watch your metamorphosis
from October boy mystery to November boy slick to
December boy sick every time I choke on
the letters of your name, the letters that string together
November sixteenth: reminders that you were never
here but aren’t gone, hear your tap tap tap knuckle kismet
in my head at night when there are other boys
who like you, won’t remember me, after. But somehow
every time, I will confuse confession for repentance.
I will confuse indifference for misplacement.
I will confuse myself, think I cannot hear you.
I will remember you every time death is a dial tone,
wonder if you made it to twenty or if I’d even find out if you didn’t.
I will blame myself for failing to save
this, the blind sin of unholy devotion,
an Indian summer on Mount Sinai,
every time, there is consequence.
With our names both sewn into the same calendar box,
let there be light for candles and cigarettes—
your smoke, a ghost, something like a Pentecost.
I will remember you every time
I blow out candles, every August twenty-first
for every August twenty-first I get to see, we share,
and I am one trip around the sun behind you, but
I will wonder if you even celebrate your birthday
when all you ever talk about is dying.
Make a wish, I cannot hear you.