Drew Breath

by Paul Gonzenbach

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It's the first thing out of your mouth every morning. it's the last thing in your head every night. At breakneck speed it all goes south. You had your warning. It seems so different in your bed. You think you might visit your sister, help her move house or call in a favor, sort it all out. The nurse was sleeping at her station when you snuck out. The headlights blind your blue, blue eyes. You stare at the broken yellow lines. You drive so fast. You're fleeing something, something you can't even put your finger on. So visit your sister, help her move house or call in a favor, sort it all out. Keep up your writing, the ones that you can't share. Keep your lights on all night long. LA is so pretty this time of year.
If you pull the IV out, then your arm will be free to unplug the alarm. If you wait by the window, you will see my car's interior lights go on. Your breath comes out in white clouds, but you're cold. It's half past three. Left your coat that has the paper with the address on it. I guess you're staying with me tonight. Christmas lights behind your profile. You don't look half bad. Skipping solid food will do that. You light a match. I'd forgotten that you're smoking again. You're the only one I'd let smoke in my car. I know I'm not the first one you called, not the car you'd like to be getting in tonight. It's not uncommon. There's nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be at peace with now for me. Do your parents know now? The only sound is the engine and the crunch of tires on snow. The air hangs heavy with the words, the words that I can't find. There are no words. It's the best way, it's the only way you've found to try them, and they all fall away. Sam is in Pittsburgh with family for almost a month. He hasn't heard yet. Jess has a new boyfriend. She texted you once. You know she's had enough. And me, when will I have enough? You're not getting younger. A vocal group of men, maybe your age. An insignificant drink or four and you're feeling fine. You're not getting any younger.
So it's the only conversation your friends seem to have anymore. You can't pretend you're unaware, not like you were before. You say it like it's a secret and I pretend to be shocked. You play it like you could keep it, and I can't ask you to stop. There's nothing that gives you away, but I still smell the beer from last night. We both know you'll leave us tomorrow. You'll turn off your phone. And I will still smell the beer from the night before on you as you turn to go.
Weeping windows face your lawn. A broken bike that you swear will soon be gone. You write a word on the humid glass. Then you erase the letters just as fast, oh. Hey man, you don't have to think twice tonight. Watch your hands. You've had a few. You think it's best, and I do, too. Watch my hands. You're half a man. You've had a few, well I have, too. Under the street lamps the sidewalk spins tonight. Your words, your words can't get unsaid. They're gone, they're gone when they leave your head. Oh. Oh, your heart's been hollowed out, and the undertow has got you now. Four pages long and single-spaced, poor word choice and awkward pace. There is no one to show us how tonight. There is no one to show us how tonight. There are no laws that cover this now. There are no laws that cover this now.
Embers 03:43
Embers from the burning house streaking in the cold night sky. You and a hole in your gut. Snow blanketing the lawn. He lies fully clothed in bed. Tom watches TV in the next room. He hears the whispers in his head, conjures up the pictures he wants to see. When are you coming home again? You can have anything you want. Broken tiles on the kitchen floor. Open a window, the icy air floods in.


released September 2, 2014

Stuart Hake plays cello on tracks 3, 4 and 8. Mastered by Carl Saff.


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Paul Gonzenbach Seattle, Washington

lovers weekend records

seattle, washington

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