A poem by Rhett Iseman Trull

by Jess

The Real Warnings Are Always Too Late

I want to go back to the winter I was born and warn you
that I will flood through your life like acid
and you will burn yourselves on me.
On my sixteenth birthday, I will use the candles
to set the basement aflame and run out laughing,
wearing smoke like a new dress. With a pocket knife,
I will try to root out that life you so eagerly started.
I’ll dent the garage door with my head, siphon Crown Royal
from your liquor cabinet, jump from a gondola in Venice. I’ll smash
my ankle with a hammer, drive through stop signs
with my eyes closed, cost you thousands
in medical bills. Forget about sleeping.
I’ll dominate the prayers you keep sending up
like the last of flares from an island no one visits.
For every greeting card poem, I will write four
to hurt you. Some will be true.
Other people’s lives will look perfect
as you search the house for its sharper pieces.
And when they lock me up I’ll tell the walls
I’m sorry. But these warnings will come like candles
after a night of pyres. I already know
how you will take one look at that new life screaming
into the world, and open your arms,
thinking, if it looks this innocent,
it cannot be so bad.