Where Our Youth Goes to Die
I found him, alone, lying in the woods
studying each cloud that passed,
the old snowflakes blowing from sleeping trees.
Shirt and arms tucked beneath his head,
he looked like a man vacationing on a beach,
a bullet hole in the middle of his bare stomach.
I pulled off my sweater and shirt
pressing them on his wound—
Do you remember Halloween, when we were young?
There was a time when costumes felt more real
than the clothes we buried beneath;
plastic masks becoming faces for days,
we paraded around as skeletons and heroes
taking sacred oaths to never break character.
I was always the first to forget my promise.
His blood began to soak through my clothes,
yet he remained calm, still breathing, searching;
a gun sat several feet from his bent elbows.
Do you remember campfires in the snow?
He quietly closed wonderful eyes
and I stared at his fading body,
as strands of blood poured from the hole
that has always burned in his stomach—
a pale white canvas painted in flames.
I saved, what I was supposed to save.