I can’t seem to help
It   I preface the conversations
I don’t want to have
With you with the phrase
The book says
As if I’m simply the messenger
Of bad news   the book says
We should talk
About what you want to wear

I can’t finish the sentence

I don’t want to think
About it   about going through
The closet   through all the clothes
I told you you didn’t need   I’ll
Inevitably find the black and blue
Dress you wore just once   I never
Understood why you kept it
I still remember it
That new year’s eve
In Chicago   my god
Do you remember how
Cold it was that year
Standing outside the bar with
Everyone we knew   we weren’t ready
For the night to end   you
Couldn’t stop shaking   I couldn’t
Get a cab   but we were still filled
To capacity with warm happiness
Remember   your tears froze in black
Streaks on your face   no   I’m
Sorry   how can I possibly choose
The last thing I’ll see you in.

About the Author:
Brian Russell holds an MFA from the University of Houston, where he served as poetry editor of Gulf Coast. His manuscript, Nights under Water, was a finalist for this year’s Miller Williams Prize (University of Arkansas Press) and Cleveland State First Book Prize. The poems included in this issue are from a new manuscript.

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