A Thousand Paper Hearts

They came like
Angels in the night
And they never meant
To stay.

A single candy wrapper blows
Across the vacant parking lot,
Its wrinkled plastic
Flapping helplessly in the air.

It’s only there for a second
And then- gone with the wind.
I think that it’s like me
Lost and alone.

A cigarette appears
Like magic that I don’t believe in anymore
And I watch the fiery embers
Burn into the night.

It wasn’t so long ago, was it?
That I lay on my own bed
Staring at the floral curtains
My mother picked out.

I wonder if she will take them for her own
When I go to college
Or let’s be real,
A homeless shelter for ex-convicts and drug addicts.

As the night falls
And white stars dot the sky
I state into the darkness
Around me, waiting

It takes a second, but it hits me.
I’ll never have what I want
(What I need) again.
I see them then.

They come from the sky
In dozens and wrap me in
Their crinkled skin
Carrying me away.

I wake up
Myself, a long time ago
The first time I saw myself
And hated my mirror.

My father, dressed
For success, greets me
With a bowl of gruel oatmeal
And a single raisin on top.

I’m like a ghost, retracing my steps
Into chemistry, where the teacher
Whose name I never learned
Drones on.

I follow the invisible
Thread into the gray courtyard
Lit up with the glow
Of her hair.

Whispers crawl up my skin like bugs in June
Saying hissing that I do care and it hurts
On the inside
And out.

She burns like a million
Volts of electricity
Golden and radiant
While we all bow before her.

She smirks as if
She can see my
Soul, and my protruding
Heart and mind.

A thousand- I like that number-
Days later, it seems
She dances her fingers through
My hair.

Her voice sings out
Like a nightingale
With her dreams
And hopes and wishes.

I would listen to anything
She had to say
At any time of day.

High above, fireworks
Light the midnight sky
And dance with brilliance,
Birds of passion that steal my breath.

The paper hearts unfurl
Themselves, and they clamor
For a spark, a flame
Of color.

It’s magic, like rainbow banners;
Tiny, colored shooting stars
Dashing across the dark
Blue curtain.

This is the moment
When I fall asleep,
Her head on my chest,
Matching my even breaths.

Maybe the paper is gone
By now. I don’t know,
But under my eyelids
There’s a faint outline of red.

This time, when
I wake, I’m back (was it a dream?)
Lying face down
In the dirt of a convenience store parking lot.

My mother used to say,
I can drink a hundred shots. But
A hundred and one makes me an

I’m an addict
To life?
To trouble?
To love?

Or maybe it’s true
And I’m a sinner but
I can’t tell truth from lies
And nothing makes sense anymore.

The cigarette burned out a long
Time ago, but in the ashes
I can see the faint glistening
Of an exploding firework.

The brilliant colors
Are gone, but I
Don’t long for them
Like I used to.

Who would?
My mouth says.
Who could?
This one’s my heart.

Her eyes were blank
As pale sheets of ice
And her mouth shaped words
She couldn’t say.

I used to love her
But that love had died
And a thousand paper hearts
Fluttered to the ground.


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