(for A.)

There I sat.
Call it 1999 or somewhere near enough.
The programs I was learning to write
Were obsolete even then.
A dead language taught by a man
Dead even while alive.
Vodka or gin — my fourteen-year old nose
Yet incapable of further discernment
Alcohol remaining a pleasure and curse
Awaiting much later years.
Indiscernible perhaps but also unmistakable.

I was good at computers then.
We had only AOL at home;
Those heady days when the world’s end
Involved a software crash triggered by a date;
When a president’s cock was the worst;
When a boy’s kiss lingered
And I found the terror and rapture of first love.

But that’s not the point,
Now is it?
First love is also first loss.

I hacked into my mother’s email account.
Why? I can’t say.
Chalk it up to being a bored teenager,
I guess. I guess?
I learned things I wish I hadn’t.
My childhood ended in a moment.
It could have been worse.

But there were books, friends.
Oh god there were books.
I lived alongside Fyodor, Will and Ariel,
Thomas, Dante, John M. and John S.,
William F. and William B.,
T.S., Vladimir, GGM and Haruki.
I could go on; much further.
Those weathered pages gave me something I had never had,
Carried me past old code on a blinking screen,
Past a family I had grown past,
That had grown past me.
Past a teacher grown past himself,
Resigned to a life neither he nor I would want.

To carry past something implies two things:
Something tangible to pass by,
And something to pass toward.

I left a name off that partial list.

It would have been the name that teacher,
Vodka-sodden, sure, but who am I to speak?
Would have seen at nine in the morning
Had I been careless enough not to hide it.
My education was not to be a citizen of the world
But a businessperson,
Why my code textbook was more important, you see.

I learned from Henry how to be alone,
What life could be subtracted.
Forgetting monuments of silicon and glass,
Speaking — with Henry and mirror water mirroring
The world’s solemn beauty.

Those lights, holidays unnamed
A chorus of gods unleashed, unbound.

I am but a firefly,
Condemned to this time and none more,
Condemned to a beauty I cannot write.

~ by Benji on August 30, 2014.

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