Break

The first time,
I get two new hearts.

One is exactly the same,
the other
orbits the first
like a dog.

Then again.
By the numbers I get
four, eight,
sixteen, thirty-two.

I get a terrible party
of hearts.

They criticize everything.
They know fabulous people
and speak to each other

in strange
yet fabulous languages
they don’t know
very well.

They’ve traveled
such impressive places
but never learned
to be any less terrible
as hearts.

They get wasted
and pour beer
in the hamster cage.
They lock themselves

in the bedroom
with their friends
and vomit on the floor.

I call the first heart
to come home
but it doesn’t answer—

it doesn’t hear its phone,
It’s met someone.
It’s so high

it isn’t sure
it exists.

Then sixty-eight, then hundreds.

A heart I didn’t invite
asks for cocaine,
and if I don’t give,
it’ll call the cops.

Then thousands. Enough
for everyone I’ve ever known
to have a foul heart.

I hide the booze
as best I can
and tell them

it’s over. I pull the circuit breaker
out of the wall
and when the lights go out,
I lock the doors

and drag unconscious hearts
onto the lawn,
their bodies

reeking of cigarettes
and covered
in regrettable tattoos;

a perfect circle, a bruise,
the words who are you,

partially erased,
and no one will ask
in cursive beneath.

 

Ted Meyer is a recent graduate of the MFA program at NYU. He teaches at public elementary schools as a fellow with the Teachers & Writers Collaborative. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Linebreak and Poetry Flash.

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