Max Stone

You knew what I meant when I said
I saw a sunflower in hell
and good art sucks too.
That sweaty night
in my empty apartment,
I thought we were immaculate.
It’s all just a series of waiting rooms,
outdated magazines, plastic
plant arrangements,
water coolers glugging on and on.
Time is bottomless boring sludge.
I keep seeing faces in the drywall.
Ear nose and throat check,
can’t swallow smoothly.
I didn’t get any furniture.
A siren rips by—not for me.
See, I thought maybe
we could leave together,
find a place, not city, not forest,
live quietly
I got my signal
at the sculpture park
from one of the names engraved
on the metal railing.
I gave myself to the Sound—
barking sea lions,
floating plastic particles.
No one trusts me.
Evil red glow inside the toaster.
No one told me how cold
the metal sink would be.
A stranger arrested control,
speaking words I’d never speak,
so fast like lightning,
tongue forked and striking.
My brothers are scared of me.
You asked what changed in me.
I cut myself up before we met.
Ice cream scoops are nice.
We always liked to share spoons.
I have come to a juncture of unknowns.
A parking garage, a bus station, a rabbit trail.
A consortium coming after me,
asking questions like:
Do you ever think about hurting yourself or others?
I owe a debt to some primordial force
that made me wild behind

my cold-mask rolled-eyes face.
Arnold Palmers and Snapple,
white knuckle grip it until Friday.
My skin doesn’t bruise so easy anymore,
but stillness promises to pull me apart.
The pond doesn’t freeze over anymore–
the one I used to skate on
with my brothers.
They won’t talk to me.
They say I act like I’m better,
out there running in circles,
trying to master my body,
refuse to believe I ever wanted
to be included.
It’s true: I wanted to watch
American Beauty and Gladiator with them,
shoot at each other with finger guns.
Little ghost all crying all sickly,
only talked to at the dinner table.
And you kinda understood,
being one of four, too.
They built a tree house
and never allowed you in.
You said we were basically
the same person,
that life recycles.
Same eyes. Same birthday.
Except yours is one day earlier,
but you’re a year older too,
that’s some star alignment
type shit.
I thought I could die
in your passenger seat.
Clouds carved out of marble,
asphalt all crumbly,
I had somewhere to be.
Saxophone man and bucket drummer
competing for tips.

I saw you that day.
You were scared of me too.
Last thing you said was,
You don’t get to look at me like that.
Echoed as I walked away.
Hands bickering with my feet,
all fidget, all mission.
Don’t worry, I understand.
But I kept calling even
after you said I was too much.

I wanted to explain
that my sky was on fire
with salt raining down,
and I pressed ice
against my skin until it burned.
You didn’t want to know.
And when my tongue and feet
finally hit the wall,
I crawled back into myself.
I’m scared to ride my bike,
and the cheap earring
turned my ear green.
I can do anything.
I am pope, I am king,
I could run forever
Not in my right mind.
Heard the doctor or someone
say to a nurse or maybe my mother
outside the door,
It’s just such a sad case.
I drew you a picture of a rose,
left it on your porch
where the rain devoured it.
My ribcage will make
a nice garden someday.

About the Author

Max Stone is a first-year poetry candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was born and raised in Reno, but has lived in various places. He began his undergraduate career playing soccer at Sierra College in Rocklin, CA, transferred to Queens College in Queens, NY, and landed back in Reno to finish earning his bachelor’s in English with a minor in Book Arts and Publication. He’s writing for all the lonely queer kids out there who are trying to understand themselves and find connection.