All the Boys Hated Him

(I wondered what happened to this poem. I found it hiding out in my music file, plotting its escape with the help of Veruca Salt.)

He stumbled 
out of thin climate-controlled air,
a belated debut in the doorway 
of sophomore English, day 8
of the school year.

Everybody stared, he was impossible
to read. His name was strong, 
unlike mine.

His name 
was the stomp 
of a winter boot,
a blunt punch
through my 
stupid lovesick chest;
his name

reverberated first 
through my brain,
then behind my lips,

ravaging the remains of my good sense.
I wanted to trace that name with my finger
across his chest; I wanted to hear my name
escape from behind his lips, expelled 
in a warm whisper against mey neck.

All the boys hated him. They growled, 
bared their claws as he passed,
acknowledging none of them. His body 
was a hundred thousand snow-stomping
steel boots, upsetting the avalanche
that should have broken and bloodied me —

But I learned to dodge, to deadbolt every door,
even inside the ranked, layered orbits of my friends,
around which the new boy was now spinning.

October, November, December —

Until one morning
at the peeling of the bell
he reached for me. Flushed
yet freezing, I looked up, 
clasped his hand, and he pulled
me off the bench 
and onto my feet.

And we walked without haste
into that dreadful building, and his name
became a warm blanket, laundry-
fresh and plush. For the life of me,
I can’t remember where I left it.

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