ends

“I don’t believe in heaven”

These words fall with a tremor from my fingers to the keys

And will eventually stumble from my lips to your ears

It’s the unfortunate truth:

I don’t think there will be anything else after I die

Unless you come and pull me back

Because I left you too early

 

I’m glad you never asked that question

About what I pray for

When everything is the spoiled soy milk in the back of your fridge

(Though it would be a waste not to drink it)

For the answer is that I don’t pray at all

 

Despite the lack of heaven

Or, perhaps, because of it

I always wonder about hell

About whether I’ve really seen it or not

I like to think I have

Just to act a bit wiser than I really am

It makes for a better facade

And we both know about those

 

I think my hell is uncertainty

My hell would make you shake your head

With how many times I wanted to quit

Or how I had a plan to do it

 

My hell is asking if it’s worth it

To stay here

Because it used to be easy to think

About making red hair a bit redder

With the pull of a trigger

But the best mentors make those things impossible

 

I don’t believe in heaven

I think you must get things done yourself

Because the only happiness you’re guaranteed

Is from what you throw your heart into

And even then, it’s a shot in the dark

 

You spoke to me about burning daylight

And how you don’t have time to take it easy

I’ll tell you about my own version

Where my wasted time is sitting in silence

Poking at my food while in your company

Because I don’t know what to tell you

 

Where I’m not learning

Every lesson you can offer me

About your countless feats and scattered faults

And asking if you’re okay

Constantly, incessantly

Please just take a break, quiet my worry

 

I know for certain my hell is you

And twenty-plus years of holding it together

Your four hours of sleep

Your “I deserve better”

After a moment’s consideration

And our mutual resignation

Toward God picking us off tomorrow if He so wanted

 

If it makes you feel any better

I know what my heaven would be like if there was one

My heaven would be a well-tied bun, every day

And my morning coffee with the right amount of creamer

That I have yet to establish

 

My heaven would be here

My heaven would be a soccer jacket too big for me

The one that smells like home, with the white stripes on the shoulders

And home is the cologne that mingles with the collar of that coat

And the warmth concealed against my chest

Home is strands of Christmas lights in every month but December

And shared coffee before eight in the morning

 

It’s the comfort I can draw from knowing

That I have open arms to run to

And a smile to greet me when my entire world is in shambles

Home is anywhere I’m with you

Because I always imagined it’s where you’re supposed to be happiest

Heaven is belonging to somebody again

 

The key to my house doesn’t work here

The key to my home says “do not duplicate”

But that’s exactly what I’m doing

Because I’m trying with everything I am to be like you

With a warm demeanor and a smile that’ll win anyone over

And whatever that infallibility is about you

That’s the way I want to be

 

You don’t look old, don’t worry

Art gets better with time, and you’re the best thing I’ve ever drawn

I know you deny the gray that’s come to streak through your hair and remind you of your age

But you’ve got the spirit of a thunderstorm in a drought

And I never told you how much I love the rain

 

I know I already said it

But oh my God, I love you

I really, really do

And I know you know it too

Because with every embrace and lingering hold on my hand

I can tell it’s reciprocated in everything you do

 

And you’re my hero, you know?

I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth

To learn that much more and be that much braver

Because I know it won’t erase the occasional knot in my throat or the tears that threaten to ravage my makeup

But it reminds me that I’m alive and I’m feeling as much as I can

 

And I’m beautiful

I know this now

Because you said it yourself

And you haven’t told me wrong yet

Then again, I often doubt you ever could

 

You’re not Superman, he’s overrated

But you’re certainly a man of tomorrow because you showed me that mine is still coming

And I want little more than for it to be wrapped up with yours

Just to guarantee not that it was good

But that is was worth it

 

When I can, I’ll paint heaven the way I remember it most clearly

Underneath the orange light of I-40 with a faint grin tugging

At the corner of your mouth

And shadows creeping across the dash

So be my coach, be my compass

Point me where I never thought I’d go

I’ll keep your gold polished and your glass protected long after you’ve led me home

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