headchecks

hockey, faggotry, mental illness

You feel comfortable for the first time in weeks. You may express yourself. You may say what’s on your mind.

It’s a false sense of security. The owner is watching. The manager is fuming.

He was treated unfairly. You sympathized with him. You’ve brought disgust unto yourself. You’ve chosen the wrong side.

Your mistake, your fault.

I saw you in my “Recommended Friends” on Facebook. You grew a beard. I think it’s handsome. It suits you. I wonder if you still have a baby face underneath. Probably.

I still look the same since we last spoke. Maybe a little bit more tired, a little bit fatter, and I wear glasses now, you know. You’d recognize me if you saw me, I think.

My mouse hovers over “Add Friend” and I notice you’re wearing your college jersey in your picture.

You did work for it. Hell, you got an EliteProspects profile. Your team seems to be doing pretty well. Are you doing well? My skates are gathering dust, while you must have gone through a few pairs since then.

I still remember that assist on your slapshot goal. I wasn’t credited for it, of course. But the celly was nice. You did wrap your arm around me, briefly, and I called you “baby”

For a moment, I imagined we could have been like how you imagined back then, when you took me ice skating for the first time, and bought me shitty ice cream.

Did we really change that much? At what point did we become so different?

I can’t remember what it was and I can’t pull up the old messages (since you did block me) but I cried for the whole day and called in sick the next.

I was so hysterical, your mom texted my mom, very concerned.

We were both 18, I think.

I don’t understand why you said that. I’m still the same person you asked out. I’m just… a little less girly since then. A little less palatable for your white teeth. I wasn’t tender enough. Not soft enough.

It hurt. It did. I hated it so much. I still had to skate beside you. I wanted to show you I could move on.

But I couldn’t.

You were the one who told me I should play hockey in the first place. You were the one who encouraged me to sign up, even though I didn’t grow up with the sport.

I cried in the locker room instead and left practice early.

I stare at your profile picture for a little longer. You look happy. It’s been ten years since we met, about. Maybe five years since we became strangers again.

My cursor is still hovering over “Add Friend” and it’s one in the morning.

Your eyes are so fucking blue. The color burns on the back of my eyelids.

I shake my head and close my laptop instead.

I wish I could forget about you. I’ve written so many awful poems about you. You would hate them. You would think I’m a creep. Of course, I don’t like you anymore. Don’t worry about that. You broke my heart, after all.

But you did like me first.

who knew that buying me shitty ice cream that one time eight years ago would still affect me like this? we were barely teenagers then

i genuinely think you have altered my brain chemistry. i wonder if you even remember me now, though.

how funny, how self-important could i be? who fucking cares anymore?

i hate you.

i hear a song and i think of you. i don’t even remember what you actually look like at this point. i have no idea where you are now.

it’s like shoving pebbles into my ears. sand stuck to my asshole.

it’s entirely possible we’ve walked right past each other, without blinking… but i think if i did see you,

i might stare a little too long,

and think of what might’ve been

it's strange to look back on my memories,

my feelings,

my old headchecks.

i wonder if Theseus considered himself

the same man

throughout his own lifetime

the haze breaks through itself,

filling my chest,

weighing my shoulders.

the fog wants to roll in

to tuck in the bay.

but my bridge lays naked,

steel and concrete weeping;

the clarity unwelcome

your soft breaths, your warm skin

(i close your mouth when you snore)

if the sun rises, just stay in

and keep your vision underwater.

i stop writing about my feelings;

they diffuse into the air

instead of forming a cavity.

my fingers smell like smoke;
yours, slightly of tamarind

happy valentine’s day.

on my tv
we watched two girls fall in love
with each other

and i saw you glance at me
your shirt pulled down over your jeans

maybe i kicked you out too early.
when we talked again i said i shouldn’t have.
and you agreed.

i made my bed before you came
maybe i should’ve played a song for you

“who stole your heart?”
you asked.
“i dunno.”
i lied.
“a baby!”
a friend said.

but we both knew
that you’re my baby

it is ... infuriating

how many poems

i have written

already

about you

you love me,

you love me not

have you listened to mitski?

because i’ve noticed

you only ever smoke

when you’re with me.

i love you,

i love you not

i’m picking flowers

and plucking off petals

by the hundreds

repeating myself

he loves me,

he loves me not

///

and you said that i could stay the night

and i was ready to sleep on the couch

and you only insisted i leave

when you remembered your mother

what would have you done?

if everyone had just left?

would you have offered me water?

would you have carried me to your bed?

would you have woken me up,

gently?

when did we meet?

on my birthday,

adjacent to the one

who hurt you.

but honestly it feels like

i have already known you

for lifetimes

when i chase you, you run
but when i stop, you come back
to check on me

i know we’re both scared
of being hurt and being used
but i won’t use you

can you promise not to use me?

i know you’ve withdrawn yourself
and i have too, recently
but maybe
just maybe

we can open up to each other
and learn
to be happy again

you said
you only want to be intimate with
a significant other
not specifically a girlfriend
and you know i’m not a girl—
i’m an “other”

and you said
you were straight but—
with some wobbly lines.
bicurious.

are you thinking about me?
or are you thinking about—

i don’t want to chase you anymore
i don’t want to back you into a corner
but i still hope you sit next to me

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