Only One Story

I’m returning to this scene like a dog

limping its way home after

being left by the highway,

look, here it is:

the burning rooftop,

a gun in your mouth,

and the whole world

a shouting distance

from nothing at all.

This is how I like my heroes,

in the dark, locked out of

every house on the street,

broken six ways to Sunday,

this is how I like my tragedy.

This is how I like my love,

green and oozing,

that gets under your skin

and leaves someone dead

by the end of it, this is

how I like my romance.

We always end up here:

here on the asphalt,

here on the black and the dirt

where children used to

run in circles, where nothing

has changed and we’re still

children and we’re still running,

this is how I like my reminders.

Bring me back to this, always:

the airport after we’ve gotten off

the plane and realized our destination

wasn’t something waiting for us, but

something we carried around,

crawl into my ribcage

and call me home.

Jump back to the staircase

where we first made friends

with gravity by falling on

our asses, where we discovered

the banister has a way of

saving you if you grab it.

Back again to when we ran outside

to see Halley’s comet,

or every alternate reality

where we missed it,

when we were taught

the universe won’t remember

your name no matter how many

times you yell it.

Take me back to when we

put the word ‘human’ down

in the dictionary and spent

the lifetime that followed trying

to figure out what it meant –

call up the poets who searched in vain

for a definition and hand me

the phone, here is my message

if the line hasn’t already gone dead:

there is no such thing as

a proper human –

that is how I like my poetry.

There is only one story

told a thousand different ways,

this is how I like my truth.

Take it and raise it up like wine

to a recovering alcoholic’s lips.

Put it down and tell me that

wasn’t the best thing

you’ve ever tasted

in your whole

goddamn life.

22 thoughts on “Only One Story

      1. Perhaps πŸ˜‰ But as a poet myself I must stick to my own manifesto: no such thing. And I don’t think any dictionary can define it in exactly the way we want it defined… hmm.

  1. This one verily Explodes!! I was going to say that if I wasn’t old enough to be your father, I would cover your comments in expletives, but then you had to go and throw in that “…in your whole goddamn life.” So I’ll just say, HOLY FUCKING SHIT this is good!!! (Just don’t tell your parents I said this…).

    Yes–definitely do it aloud. From that gaff-hook of an opening line until the Goddamn end it is a balls-out biker-rally sonic death-race tearing through the existential heart of America! I don’t think my brain can handle a fourth read at the moment, but I WILL be back to further gorge on this sonic smorgasbord! There is TOO much to digest here!

    1. I’ve been smiling stupidly at my computer screen for the past 10 minutes. Hearing that someone re-reads a piece ONCE keeps me fueled for about a decade – knowing that they might now, after a second glance, look at my work more complexly than ever before – but THIS is more than I’ve dared to hope for. I think you chiseled your way to the heart of this poem and built a nest there.

      I’ve seen a lot of comments in my time, but this one is by far my favorite. Seriously, I want that description stamped onto my forehead.

      Does a “thank you” suffice? Surely not, but – THANK YOU πŸ˜€

      P.S. I love the expletives. Between you and me: holy fucking wow.


      1. Well, it’s a phenomenal piece. Seriously.
        As to stamping the description on your forehead, I know a REALLY good tattoo artist…but I wouldn’t recommend it as it may make finding a job rather tricky, even in the literary field…
        Thank you suffices wonderfully. πŸ˜‰
        You ok if I reblog this? It deserves more attention.

        1. I’m so glad that you did reblog this wonderful piece JCC. I would have missed this absolute gem. Holy F’ing wOW indeed. And it is so worth a second and third re reading. So much going on. Fabulous.

  2. I read until my heart bled. Then crawled back into the ribcage that I call home and wondered if it might just be the best poem ever in my whole goddam life.

  3. Reblogged this on A Prayer Like Gravity and commented:
    An absolutely phenomenal piece by a phenomenal poet.
    Natalie deserves your rapt attention.
    If, at her age, I had possessed half the talent and a quarter of the wisdom that this young lady does, I would have possessed more of both than I do now….

    1. This made my day πŸ™‚ Your work and talents are such an inspiration to me, and I’m so grateful we have the chance to share them with each other. Many thanks!


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