Chalk outlines of a future self by Jay Sizemore

I will leave the water running while I brush my teeth,
because it soothes me. Being wasteful can be soothing.
I wonder if every bad habit can be traced to a moment
when the mind was a doorway an elephant walked through,
to an older self wanting to shrug off his shell
before his skin was hard enough for sun.

I remember that white room with the bunk beds
and the lanky step-cousin with her long brown hair
and glasses, how she offered to teach me to French kiss,
some kind of euphoric burning in my chest
that felt like a moon being birthed from lungs,
the alternating textures of rough and smooth tongue
on my own, the sweet taste of her hot breath.
A secret to carry like a moth in my heart.

Two years later, standing in a barn loft,
yellow beams of light glinting between the dark gray boards,
my pants down around my ankles as she said, “Now, stick it in.”
Different kids, playing with adult desires like toddlers
slobbering on alphabet blocks. Prepubescent, it was impossible,
yet my penis burned for days where it had touched her.
Another memory, a chalk outline of my future self.

Watching the pink forms of writhing limbs between locked fingers,
became sneaking into an older cousin’s magazine stash,
the one I carried home and hid under my mattress
torched in the trash barrel to unclench God’s fist,
became staying up all night recording sex scenes from Cinemax,
became sneaking pornography home from the video store,

my grandmother’s handwritten note that she had found them.
These layers of dust make the mind a musty attic of shame and lust,
a place where a mother’s voice saying, “Turn off the faucet,”
can be the same as one saying, “Close your eyes. Don’t look.”

about the author:
Jay Sizemore doesn’t win awards. He writes poems and stories and scribbles his name a lot onto electronic pads for material possessions. He listens to Ryan Adams and drinks Four Roses. You can find his work online in places if you go looking, including his chapbook Father Figures, still available on Amazon. His wife puts up with his shit in Nashville, TN. Find him at