november, 1999

from by t. gagnon

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I have this subconscious reel of footage,
collections of us flying off bicycles and meeting pavement when we were kids,
looking at our skin splitting and muscles squirming.
Exploring bodies; that’s called experimenting.
Bandage me, call that stability.

I want to cut our fingers open like soul mates with pacts to make,
drain boxes of wine, the kind of crushes you put up your nose,
lick your lips, flip your eyelids,
the things we were aren’t holy if they made us what you see.

It’s November again,
and I can hardly keep my hand steady anymore,
I want these fingers rattling rings, nobody here promises anything.
They just want another and another and another,
a notch on a bedpost, better if they’re sleeping under splinters.

They tell me they can hear me inside a chorus of a remix of a pop song,
the kind that’d tie us down when everyone is floating to the ceiling.
I just want to recognize somebody,
(but I’m scared that’s something nobody’s fearing.)

This time two years ago, you used to take me out of school,
and buy all the discount Halloween candy.
The blood was in your face then, I feel like I tried holding it all when you were falling.
We stayed in the theaters until last show, then you’d fall asleep in my bed,
your arms across my chest, pledge some bravery,
Did I seem like some kind of trembling safety?
I’d watch you get up in the night, look at the pictures on my shelves,
standing on your toes, lifting off.
you’d look so far from the world when you’d drive,
kids wearing dollar store masks fly by,
you started looking right through me at parties.
You thought I was haunting you, but it was just all your hours compacting,
pills from bathrooms you kept retracting.
love seeks only itself to please,
binding you in bedsheets to his delighted needs.
But I know love is two friends in a twin sized bed,
and it felt like overflow when the blood in you was thickening,
your body thrashing when you took too many,
I swear they called ambulances for weeks.
you tried sleeping it off, but your eyes kept rolling like fallen tires,
open me like split knees,
I need that bravery in my chest you kept clinging.

I keep waking up hoping it’s November, 1999,
the last month before we put away our bikes.
white knuckled, i’m crashing
because i’m tired of always spinning something.
i’m holding my arms out
because i’m not scared of the feeling.


from Swoon, released June 10, 2014
music by j. remmetter, j. gosling, m. bacon, and j. warren



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t. gagnon New Hampshire

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