The letter I found on my bedside table
After getting out of bed for the first time in three days
Somewhere there is a museum of unfinished surgeries
Where you can reach inside the exhibits
And finally through all the things you’ve been holding onto
In the end, there is a 100% chance that one of your own organs will kill you
So stop looking over your shoulder
Stop acting as if you’ve been thrust into someone else’s life
And are writing to be returned to your own
This is your life
You are not a library book though you have had many homes
You are more permanent than that
More cool cement hand print
More favorite shirt left in the closet for the next owner to love also
Stop calling yourself a student
When all you’ve been studying all those nights is
The geography of some other man’s hell
Those nights you played hide and seek with language
And the words were starting to win
Those nights when you were merely the axle at the center of the reel
The nights when your mind started to rebel
And you begin praying with your fists instead
These nights when it had been as long since
Something had changed your life
You had begun to believe that nothing could be life changing
Then on Netflix for the sixth consecutive hour
A gunman is hugging a human shield
And they tell you he is a coward for this
They will tell you he is inhuman for holding a life like this for his own
But he holds her
Holds her the same way you hold her
The only barrier against everything else
His arms are so thick that he could stop the bullets without her
The sirens are wailing and he is terrified of letting go
And they will tell you this is nothing like love
They will tell you that you are either too old or young to understand
They will tell you that love has nothing to do with music or poetry
Despite the words that firework your brain after waking up beside her
They will tell you
That every song you loved in high school was just a mass marketing scheme
Directed at a million kids just like you
And when they tell you this
You will avoid these songs for years
But your memory is a circuit safety net
You can patch it even as you are falling
It will be easy to forget that you wrote this
To hear every word in someone else’s voice
You wrote this
Even when the words
And the pens
And the power runs dry
You wrote this
It is yours


When looking for the lost or missing,
It is best to work backwards

You both know that the line between:
“You will see me again soon,” and
Is paper thin.
It is nobody’s fault for ending up on the “wrong side” of things
But beyond that, it goes no further
You are incapable of breaking the vice grip
In which you have found yourself
She begins to back her way around the corner—
This is the art of fading gracefully.

On the train ride to meet her,
You sketch battle plans on the back of a napkin
Hoping that the right string of words
Will be enough to seatbelt you both
Into something that could withstand the head-on collision
After everything, she is still that habit
You are not quite willing to break

Through thousands of miles of telephone cable
She spits your name like a curse word
And tells you that time has dug in its heels,
That the space between you is growing in excess
You stumble over the simplest phrases:
“I am going to fix this,” and
“We are bigger than the chasm wedged between us,”
Each one catching in your throat, a broken circuit
Of which you are incapable of flipping the switch
You’ve always been eloquent at the easy moments
But in this one all you can manage is:
“I don’t know.”

The nature of addiction dictates that overtime,
The effect of a given stimulus will decrease
As the body becomes accustomed to a repeated sensation
Grief. Loss. Alcohol. Her.
Despite your best intentions, one night a week doesn’t do the job.
As well as it used to, and
This is what terrifies you the most.

Daylight breaks through the window
Rays of sun through partially askew blinds
Shards of a winter that have hung on too long
Tight-fisted and blacked-out beautiful
The stark white concrete standing between you and
Everything you are unprepared to walk away from
You would abandon your bones just to have something to return for

It’s been less than a week now and already
You’re aching for another hit
The phone lines keep you moving on the days
She is too far to touch
Your promise to visit, to stay with her when you do
To fight the intrusion of daylight with both hands
But the nature of addiction states that the first time
Is ALWAYS the best time.

This is a whiskey midnight and
You will drink yourself dry
And she is nothing but a mantra upon your lips
The impractical hope that someone
Will hold on and mean it
But hope is always the most eloquent storyteller
When looking for the lost or missing


JEN JOLLES is a fan of breakfast sandwiches, long runs and even longer bike rides. She, like her writing, is a perpetual work in progress.