Brokeheart: Just like that


When the bass drops on Bill Withers’

Better Off Dead, it’s like 7 a.m.

and I confess I’m looking

over my shoulder once or twice

just to make sure no one in Brooklyn

is peeking into my third-floor window

to see me in pajamas I haven’t washed

for three weeks before I slide

from sink to stove in one long groove

left foot first then back to the window side

with my chin up and both fists clenched

like two small sacks of stolen nickels

and I can almost hear the silver

hit the floor by the dozens

when I let loose and sway a little back

and just like that I’m a lizard grown

two new good legs on a breeze

-bent limb. I’m a grown-ass man

with a three-day wish and two days to live.

And just like that everyone knows

my heart’s broke and no one is home.

Just like that, I’m water.

Just like that, I’m the boat.

Just like that, I’m both things in the whole world

rocking. Sometimes sadness is just

what comes between the dancing. And bam!,

my mother’s dead and, bam!, my brother’s

children are laughing. Just like—ok, it’s true

I can’t pop up from my knees so quick these days

and no one ever said I could sing but

tell me my body ain’t good enough

for this. I’ll count the aches another time,

one in each ankle, the sharp spike in my back,

this mud-muscle throbbing in my going bones,

I’m missing the six biggest screws

to hold this blessed mess together. I’m wind-

rattled. The wood’s splitting. The hinges are

falling off. When the first bridge ends,

just like that, I’m a flung open door.



Patrick Rosal


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