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letter written in the library at 2am

Al Anderson

To be honest, there’s little to blame but dreams. Last night you ruined all of them. They’re like loaded conversations or looking for sex in public toilets; everything is coded, indecipherable if you’re too drunk or if it’s your first time. You think you’re over something, yeh? One wrong word hangs around the room like an undiscussed smell. My home city is the same as it’s always been: drunk & bored & hostile with the occasional bittersweet pang of suburban magick. That, & endless development: the landscape grows new corners every day, totally empty & shining. They knocked the library down & built a new one that looks like a set piece from a sci-fi film circa 2008. I think that’s all. I’m still in love with you. Sorry that I’ve been hiding. You’ve noticed right? Yesterday I sat in a starbucks & watched someone. About 18. It was shameless, like he was hanging on a wall or streaming across a screen. I always pretend I have something they could want: charm, social standing, drugs etc. & clubs & bars & the smell of chemical toilets & oh god the loneliness. All these things, small & pretty like the different ways I could ruin him. My face feels marmoreal. In a ‘too much acid rain’ & ‘strain of the centuries’ kind of a way. I’ve spooked myself. I’m going to book a flight to Rome & then oversleep by several hours & miss it. I miss you. I miss you horribly. I’ve never felt like such a faggot. & & I hate it so much, pumped up on fear & caffeine & in love. I should write a novel where the autumn leaves are falling for 500 pages & nothing happens. The air around me is pulsating like a vexed diaphragm & I don’t think much anymore. I feel it, under my skin, beating against the walls of my skull: ‘faggot.’ ‘faggot.’ & there are traces of you everywhere, on the internet & under my fingernails & I’m sweating a lot right now. It hurts, I guess. Knowing you’re out there. Existing. Wild horses being a thing, after all. It was late at night, deep into the summer. Their eyes are big & brown & indifferent.

Al Anderson was published in the 2016 UEA Creative Writing Anthology: Poetry

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