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a girl and i stagger out of a tear-cloud and shake
into each other’s mouths. there is no one i love
out of necessity, but this is a love hatched under
a sky bursting and marred by flames. a week later,

the joke is still good. we started dating because
a riot bloomed around us. we put down our belatedly
grabbed weapons and kissed while milk was guzzled
by a dozen searing eyes. i mean, if you want to know
who loves you, send them screenshots of what you
are being threatened with. i mean, i’ve seen enough

post-apocalyptic movies to know how this will end.
sooner or later someone i love is going to have to
swallow my location, and even then the enemy might
still find me. i mean i don’t want to exist in
a future where i don’t know who would hide me.
i mean i am not yet asking to be hidden but also

i started mapping the escape routes out of my
house. consider this: a cop’s daughter moves in
with me, and months later a cop tells me there
is nothing i can do to defend myself from him, and

if we were both wearing masks / if the cop’s daughter
has only ever seen me leaving / or coming home or
/ buying combat boots, who is to say i have not
shaken hands with someone who imagines me

bleeding? i mean, who have i eaten a meal with
who has also used my lovers’ names as
target practice? i mean when i leave your house
and you tell me to drive safe, we are both thinking
of how loud my license plates are. how i am too

visible to be alone and pulled over and wrong.
sometimes a cop or a military man comes into
my job and flinches at how my voice and body
do not always match and what if that flinch held

a bathroom door? or a gun? i cannot trust
that people i love are safe unless i can hold
out my glass hands and their breath fogs me.
i mean there is no one i ask to prove what
their care is worth. but a reverse Kristallnacht
swallows the moon and i did not even know
i could run like an animal away from a greater
beast. but a boy finds every single thing

the internet has ever said about me and
tells me how to hide despite. but at the end
of it i tell you i am proud and this also means
alive / or safe / or held / or i would love you

even if it was not this desperate and sobbed
but now, it is. now, Morning drags her feet
across the heavens and we slip into a
quieter reality. now, a co-worker asks how
we know each other and i laugh. you see,
it is a funny story. it is a good joke.