A Vulgar Letter Signed X

X is a funny letter-
not funny like how cartoon characters die
with X's for eyes,
but funny like how you can take the letter S
and fuse it with laughter
to make slaughter.

X is funny, you see,
because it lays its black skin against white sheets
of paper with its arms outstretched
and its legs open-
a seductress asking, begging, pleading
for attention.

And X is funny because,
as a kid, I thought that that's how people died-
in their beds, on their backs,
with their arms reaching and legs spread.
But that's not how peoplel die;
it's how relationships die,
or begin,
or both.

And when I left my ex,
I wanted to cross out her name
with a giant X.
I wanted to see the trail of graphite crumble
from the stroke of my pencil tip
and leave small gray tombstones
in the wake of the stories we shared.

Instead, I took a train
that barreled away
from California love
to grungy Seattle.
And, on the way,
hit a man who bounced from our tracks
and landed in the grass on his back
with his arms open and legs spread-
asking, begging, pleading
for our gaper's block.

Well, we gave it to him,
staring with our faces pressed
against the glass with exclamation points
to those who asked why we were stopped.
But his body wasn't a funny kind of X
like how cartoon characters die with X's for eyes;
he was a funny kind of X the same way you can make slaughter
when you fuse the letter S
with laughter.

Upcoming Publication inĀ Ghostlight: The Magazine of Terror