When I was ten-years-old, I met
then President William Jefferson Clinton—Bill, for short.
Frosty cheeked and underdressed, I stood waiting outside
an airline hanger, South Korea, of all places.
Bomber jacket and relaxed grin, I was enthralled.
Quick handshake sent tingles of warmth, outer-body experience.
Mother said, “Wash your hands.” Pretended naiveté.
My first sexual experience said in later years.

The first time I had my heart broken
I wasn’t in love. At least I think.
Yet the pain! Oh the wretched, debilitating pain!
All that time wasted. I’d kick myself today
if that feat were humanly possible, of course.
All the clichés are true: time, space, perspective.
I hate them instinctively: hurry up and wait.
The old man in the sea had patience.

I’m not the story you want to hear—
white, middle-class nuclear family, two kids and all.
But an identity? Now that’s the tricky part.
White: the absence of color, the blandest taste,
produces power and fear—but I’m absent, remember?
Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder,
not harder or smaller, tighter—oh how I lament!
I grew up in a cardboard box; repeat.

My first kiss was a short, comical relief.
Five years since Bill; I, still holding on,
finally realized he’d moved on (to my dismay!)
It was sweet and genuine. He was eighteen
and told me he loved me. I reciprocate
not knowing what it meant, honestly not caring.
I once tried counting all I’d kissed. de-press-ing;
didn’t feel until twenty (boy I didn’t love).

Dreams are liars. You can’t just walk away
from mental prison fueled by fatigue, desire, Ambien.
Came to me the first time I ever
talked to Eddie. We’d just met. Mutual friend—
something sparked an undistinguishable flame, his & mine.
Kindred or kindling, charged by kind, inquisitive eyes.
There is beauty in a stranger knowing secrets>
Human to human—until we are all ashes.

The couches are not as comfy as television
depicts. Just a room, Kleenex at the ready.
Ten years seems longer, when it’s only twice.
Three “lost” as if I’d simply misplaced them.
Trauma and textbook, 2009 was a bad year.
Grief in waves, peaks and valleys. Mostly peaks—
the hidden mind, once opened, cannot be closed.
Boy! What I have gained! A new life.

The first time I saw my Father cry
we were standing on a grassy patch where
we had once been before. Hugged so tight,
in front of tourists, marble, and granite: monuments
to great men. Before me stood a great
man. Pulled up by bootstraps and ethics, things
long thought forgotten: stockboy to Bigshot—my
American dream. The past, an obstacle, if allowed.

After school I’d explore the forest, uninhibited, fearless
behind the YMCA, my older brother 100 yds away.
The world an oyster, I the shiny pearl.
Secret caverns hidden from view; gushing waterfalls
I never cried, the scrapes and bruises perfunctory.
I wish I could remember more, my youth.
But I merely catch glimpses of blurred figures.
Except fruit-flavored Mentos, a smell sickeningly sweet.