I Have Him In Favorites

At heart, I am a Muslim,

At heart, I am an American,

At heart, I am a Muslim,

At heart, I am an American Artist

And I have no guilt… —Patti Smith

So he only showed up in the online grid every few weeks—

Never a picture, usually just a period dot for the name, no

Stats, no descriptions, literally as small and vanished as he could be

And still be there; he always messaged me first.

He always asked me to send a new selfie.

“What about you”

“I’m not the woman”

***

I mean, we all come to this a little broken, a little unsure

Of ourselves, of reality; he was just worse than most and

Maybe if someone sat through the text rants and didn’t block him

And sent him a dick pick when demanded, when he really needed

To be crude and blunt—to a man—and listened to him puzzle through

Everything his father said—well, maybe that wouldn’t—couldn’t—can’t—

Be enough, but if it could have been you would have done it, paid it,

Suffered it. Because he can’t help it. Because he deserves a chance

To be someone you deserve and because—most of all—no one has ever

Given him a break on this, all this, this whole secret that’s somehow his

And if what you feel means anything bigger at all then you will give him

That break. That redemption.

(Now, of course, you’re the only one who ever will.)

***

Well it’s just one more thing—I’m so used to it!—to imagine away, to think

Past: he won’t tell his wife,

He can’t tell his father,

He only actually calls me when he’s drunk,

And all those people at the club, all that blood—

The club where he’d hang out in the corner, drinking,

Where he’d sit and text me about how everyone there has AIDS

Where the CNN reporters found guys to interview, guys who

Were creeped out by him, who chatted and blocked him, guys

Who lost someone they loved that night.

—I lost someone I loved that night, too, but

I guess I don’t want anyone to know, I guess

I just want to remember past to the one time he messaged me

From a hotel, a business trip, said we should get a room

Together, and I teased him and made him send a pic

And it’s just his chest and boxers and I still have it and

Sometimes I can almost believe that it still might happen, that

One night I’ll turn around in a hotel bed and press my ear to that

Softly bristled dark chest in the picture, that I still might have a chance

To wait, to hear his racing heart finally lull to sleep.