For Stephen

If I’d known
I would have halted all minutia
and rushed to your side.
I would have climbed that oak tree
begged you to come down
and eased the noose
you’d tightened.

We’ve never met,
but if I’d known
I would have braved the gauntlet of L.A. traffic
endured the untimely chill
and pierced the early dark
to get to you
in time.

I would have opened my ears
to your floodgates,
loosened the reins of my heart
to ride beside yours,
and stretched my comforting arms
around your volcanic ribs.

I would have said:
Me too, gentle warrior.
I, too, know the reasons
and they are plenty.
I will not shame or dissuade you.
I know the hell that hides
behind the brightest eyes
and whitest smiles.

I would have said:
Sweet firefly
you are a star
that shines brighter
than neon.
If not you, who?

I would have told you:
I cannot promise you hope
for the world is bleak and pale
because we made it so.
I cannot offer you respite
for the toil never ends
for a tender soul.

But I would have promised love
because seedlings sprout
in the wake of a bulldozer’s wrath
even when the tree’s destruction
is certain.
I would have promised love
because your lovers
are already legion.

Brother,
(May I call you Brother?
No reference to your magnificent Blackness
but to our kinship bond
as artists who find god
in cyclones of muscle and bone
waterfalls of arms and knees
and the eternal heartbeat
of sound.)

Brother,
if I’d known
I would have brought you
a thousand candles
to light the dark cavern
of your creeping night
like your spark lit mine.
I would have brought you
all the white roses ever planted
one for every gift you granted
before your wick
extinguished.

Anything
to illuminate this tarnished shadow
that’s lengthened
since you disappeared
down the empty end
of a gun.

If you’d known
that shot fired
into your inconsolable wilderness
would trigger an avalanche of devotion,
would you have stayed?

If you’d known
your heartquake
would cause a tsunami of salty grief,
would you have waited?

Please wait! Please stay.

© S. Rinderle, December 15, 2022
In Memory of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, 1982 – 2022. Rest in Power, dear one.

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