In bed, after arms loosen & feet stop extending, I shut my eyes

            Before a rock can sink to the bottom of a river, his face invades my dream

Blue eyes & blonde hair, I’m projecting a reflection of myself

            His wired smile I recognize better than scars on my cracked knuckles

Wrought iron fingers stroke my leg & skin craves freedom from bones

            & I pray my hands don’t fail me again

I thrash awake一bury scarlet eyes in a cold, overturned, pillow

           Which can’t discern the taste of tears from sweat anymore

& I can’t discern whether a strangling daze is all I’ll ever squeeze out of life

            When caught in a chokehold seconds mimic millennia & heartbeats

Are a universe expanding without celestial bodies consenting

            Every gram belonging to galaxies land on my shoulders when touched

I calcify, but my battered & ignored skin yearns to lay in a lap

         Like a star in a child’s palm一though nearing supernova


         On quiet nights when moonlight forgets to rest against my chest

I wonder what I’ll tell my friends

         Are the right words extinct or is my shriveled body explanation enough

Is there a correct time to disclose a story I drown daily

            Should I even tell them about the summer of ‘08

I talk to paper because it’s easier staring at blank pages than watching eyes

            I’ve seen squint after laughing, inherit an unwavering sadness

Maybe I’ll hide this story in a corner of my mouth no tongue has explored in years

            I daydream about a gentle man, lips smooth & glossy as polished garnet,

But fantasies die quick when I envision his warless knees settling next to my feet

            & his palms press against my hips, a prayer distanced by stiffened skin,

What do I tell a man who’s ready to abandon his childhood city for a bouldered love

           How will I say no when my skin begs me to let loose & accept his soft worship

How will I say yes when my nails still burn from being dragged across hardwood

           Though most men refuse to love rocks, he could be one of the good ones

Who cherishes skipping stones until an orange moon harvests a rippled kiss

           As much as slipping beneath sheets一hidden from the world’s smoldering stares

Or he could run back into his mother’s arms, surrounded by familiar skylines,

          While I lay in bed like sediment beside ruthless waves

Pondering if I should dry out completely or let water wash over me


Author Bio:

Carson Sandell is a 22-year-old queer and demisexual poet from San Jose, California. They are studying Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry at UC Riverside and plans on teaching in the future.