Stay, or go.

When I write poetry,
I want to treat you like you’re blind
and only be kind about one thing at a time.
Now this poem’s already been written,
but it hasn’t been fully heard yet,
so maybe there’s still time.
Maybe I can rewind
to those chimes crashing in the wind
that rang in my ears loud enough
to erase what I almost said to you.

So maybe you’ll stay long enough to listen
to what I think about when I write,
but leave before my voice breaks
when I’m trying to recite.
Leave before the songs set stakes and a pace,
leave before the rule-writers rake broken fingernails across your face,
but stay to play the loose covers of the songs you’ve only heard once,
stay to see the light discover the things you haven’t seen once.
Stay long enough to inhale the things we do when we’re outside,
stay to learn symphonies for the things you knew of, but never tried.

Stay long enough so that the people around you
can only see how old you are
when you smile,
but be gone by the time miles
become too far to cross,
by the time dreams get tossed
into the unused guest rooms
that still stink of storage,
but stay until your team takes the cup,
but be gone by the time most people wake up
just to rip up
the love letters you once wrote them
because we’re gripping the things we like,
even walking along spikes barefoot
for the sights of the things that we once believed in.

Now I don’t know about you,
but I’ve been waking up for the wrong reasons
and I’ve been feeling myself between two feelings,
like those things I need to stay for
and the things I need to leave before
they know of my intentions.
Stay long enough to know
there’s still hope for what’s forsaken,
but leave before what’s broken starts breaking inside.

Stay for the reasons that paint your face red,
stay to hear the poems that someone else bled,
stay to heal, or at least cope with the past
and last into flashes
that flash eyes red for pictures.
Now some of the things I know,
they can only be whispered,
like frightful restless hopes
where best guesses meet second chances,
so stay long enough to hold something tight,
but know when it’s time to let go.
Stay long enough to try,
but be gone by the time
it’s time to move on and go.

Be gone before they realise you’re late,
be gone before people begin to blame fate,
be gone before shadows begin looking like lakes
and be gone before winter buries you in flakes.
Be gone before the hours run out,
be gone when you realize what life is about,
be gone because someone else needed you more
and be gone when the banks take the world between your doors,
because this world we’ve made
is full of the things we don’t need
so stay long enough to see
and carve your name before you leave,
carve it deep where the cedars recede
like drunken footsteps into the night.

Because I see you.
Some of you have kept
all your promises and secrets,
all the notes you’ve passed in class
and all those tiny, little trinkets.
Some of you have lost
all your reasons and your hopes,
all those wants disguised as needs
and the ways you used to cope.
And some of you have loved
the things that other people hate
and some of you have lived
in places no other could relate.

So stay long enough to see something built,
but be gone when the rooftops crumble.
Stay for those drinks that cool your soul,
but be gone before you stumble.

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About Sean O'Gorman

Spoken Word poet from Ottawa. View all posts by Sean O'Gorman

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