Jason Xenopoulos

I secreted you away. I secreted you away. I shed you like a second skin. I buried you inside me, thought the memories were out of me but secrets never go away. They slither and spread throughout you until they aren’t so much in you as they are you. As you are me. The secret that defines me. That frightens me. That inspires me. That reminds me of who I am. But now I am outing you. Spewing this secret onto the page in front of me. I’m exorcising your venomous tip from inside me. Are you really who I think you are… or are you just a fantasy I created to define the unknowable core within me?

My childhood and yours are so inextricably intertwined and yet I no longer know your name. Your presence has evaporated from my consciousness, our bond eviscerated by the animosity that surrounded us. In the shadows of our shared bedroom I explored your nakedness, searching for remnants of a forgotten womb. I parted the soft lips of your budding sexuality, you stroked my growing masculinity. We imagined ourselves as heroes in a world of our own fantasy. We were strangers on a train. We were lovers high above a cityscape. Your breath exhaled my every inhalation. Your shadows held a lamp to illuminate my way… but when the lights came on again, when night gave way to day, our union dissipated and now I know that I will never know you again. I do not even know your name.

You guiltify my gilded cage with your hypocrisy. This tirade of verbosity is the only way I can find to spit out the cancer you have planted inside me. You came to me, you came lame to me, you blamed me, and you laid me bare to stare unequivocally at the wounds I let fester there. I worry that this sorry, dismal state of affairs is just the shoddy, bloody whip of your childhood envy. Your jealousy. Your jealously-guarded inferiority. I wish I could know what truth lies beneath this blanket of lies with which you now smother me.

Home me. Own me. Adopt me as your own. Grow walls around me. Envelop me and surround me. Protect me from the homelessness I feel. I always thought it was natural to wish your parents dead, to fantasize about the infanticide of the siblings you despised. I thought home was not a hearth but a bonfire waiting to be ignited. My home was a house but a home should be so much more. And so now I make a home of you, a home for you, a home in my heart with walls of my arms to hold you.

I NewYorked my way to freedom. I walked my way to freedom on the streets of New York. I sailed her seas of concrete anonymity. Faces like fishes swimming around me, imprinting my place in the human collective deep within me. I lost myself in New York and I found myself there again. I was raised by wolves on 5th Avenue, homeless refugees playing conga with cut-off gloves and the creased lines of myriad abandoned lives on their faces. I was birthed on the sidewalks of a city far from home, a place that saved me from a life not my own. New York is my mother, she is my lover and my savior. She is the womb that carried me and the rod that God spared me. New York is my home.

Jason Xenopoulos

The Departed

I stand in the cavernous hall waiting to be born again
The trees tremble beneath each new whispered soliloquy
I hear my mother’s melody in the cacophony of the rain
as shadows of the departed seek to serenade me.

I wash myself in the baptism of Time’s great mire
I wield the knife carefully
Gravity and Relativity squat beside a dying log-fire
Dissecting the fleshy body of what was to become me.

The first time I heard her play,
a desperate attempt to prove she loved me,
I felt as though I was listening to my own DNA
strum a requiem on the corrugated-iron above me.

Her dead fingers drum like a skeleton’s bony hand
across the subcutaneous keys of my baby grand.