1999

1999
by kevin gonzales
We were driving to your funeral
& our father was not crying
because he has a way
of tying ribbons around grief.
It was the year we learned
the piercing that prefaces the blood
holds the most delicate of darknesses.
Then it was the year we opened
all our faucets & waited for the sea
to bleed to death. Then it was the year
we set fire to your mitt. Then, suddenly
the year we started to believe
every thorn was just a bridge.
Then the year all we talked about
was boxing. Then the year
my stomach hurt all year, & then
the year no one spoke of you.
If there were an antonym for suicide
we could all choose when to be born.
I would have been born after that day
so I could not remember you.
So my fingers would stop pointing
at all the things that aren’t there.

0 thoughts on “1999

  1. This starts slow for me, but ends softly and deliciously. It seems heartfelt. I’ve written things like this to friends who have passed and they are always so damn sad. This one is no exception.
    For some reason, I don’t like the word “antonym” in here. . . it takes a poem rendered in emotional strokes and makes it needlessly nerdy. It doesn’t flow. But that last stanza is otherwise a nice creamy frosting on a pretty decent cake.

  2. This poem has a good flow with the exception of the last stanza. I don’t think it’s the word ‘antonym’ as it’s the sentence that it’s placed in. It just plain doesn’t make sense. I don’t see how suicide has anything to do with birth. And aren’t there antonyms for suicide? i.e. surviving, enduring, living, etc.
    Now that I think about it, I don’t like the second stanza at all. It’s too touchy/feely for my coldhearted tastes. First stanza is still pretty good…

  3. The last stanza is a coda for the first. It’s good. And it’s less ‘touchy/feely’ than it is cynical and painful. I think an ‘antonym for suicide’ would be to willfully live, and in creating this trope the writer cements the difficulties of hard-to-reconcile loss pretty damn well – just how much did the subject of this poem destroy? For me, the poem captures emotional emptiness and the loss of joy. I’m sure it could be better, but I don’t think it needs to be.

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