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The Bar is Decorated with Hundreds of Pictures of Shipwrecks

from My Life's Work by Ben Seretan

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Wrote this drunk on the J train on a Monday, there are typos

My friend with the always too short shorts in the summertime and the impractical shoes in the winter. I love you for it, for how you keep slipping out of life, how you see me as more brilliant than I am, how you love to flirt with the world and run startled from it when it places a hand on your should (and yet? You’ve never run from me, you bring me gifts of books and singing).

When you had your head shaved in your Hasidic bathroom I came unstuck in time and I saw you at every stage of your life at once - a body more like mine and shaggy hair, Led Zeppelin t-shirt, elegant and well dressed, moving type and breaking hearts and setting up your home, dignified and established and welcoming me into your life after we finally lived in separate coasts. I saw it all as your curls fell to the floor. I think what I felt then and what I couldn’t say is that I loved you and not only that - I knew you. I had seen you stifle a cry, I’d been in a shower with you, I’d spooned you in a twin bed, we’d stripped naked in our basement to put our rain soaked clothes in the dryer, I’d held your hand on the way to a party on Grand Street. I’m rooting for you.

Tonight I was not expecting to drink a bottle of wine and to knock a painting off the wall in the luxury apartment in Williamsburg but here we are, me on the train back to my apartment swirling around and too wound up to sleep. Secondhand smoke, torch songs, you told me that no one puts it down better than you do. You told me a story about how your friend shit the bed on his wedding night and cried in the shower knowing that it was true love, his wife cleaned him up and it was real and she was hardly mad, at least she laughed about it. I told you about listening for a heartbeat, something that always feels like I’m telling it for the first time. You were angry on my behalf, the best feeling of many good feelings. We had a good laugh, it feels good to have a good laugh.

I want ease for you because you’ve given me so much by just seeing me with fresh and honest eyes - if only I could give you that, make you feel truly how wonderful the world finds you, how it wants to give itself over to you, a kitten rolled into its back, despite this moment.

Call me and sing my voicemail a song, let me listen to it in the warm dark glow of my phone in bed.
Send me seeds in the mail to replant in the tiny pots on my kitchen counter.
Hold my hand to your heart.
Invite me to your wedding.
Let me lay my head in your lap.
Tell me you’ll miss me when you get to California, draw my name in the sand.
Send me a pic from the mountaintop when you scatter your father’s ashes.
Tell me about your dreams, your zines, your favorite arias.
Tell me I look good, squeeze my butt, visit me at work and have lunch with me on the roof.
Trace the shape of my ears with your acrylic nail, let me use your soap, your conditioner.
Let me be your +1.
Ask me out.
Give me a reason to call out sick, drive with me in a borrowed stick shift to Western Mass.
See me.
Sing harmony.
Give me something to cry about.
Float in over my threshold.
Feed me the maraschino cherries you were texting me about.
Make a racket for me.
Keep me in your heart, keep my absence in your bed.
Let’s boogie in some distant future, fiercely held.


from My Life's Work, released August 30, 2018


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Ben Seretan Troy, New York


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