Kanye West-All the Lights (5:00)

by Brian Oliu

There is no time for introductions here—no room for a handshake in the form of an orchestra. Instead, you, cold, while the rain sticks to the fur around the hood of your coat. When the lights turn on, it is time for us to leave—all things brighter, the wetness from the bar darkening my shirt, the silver paint from a beer label under my fingernails. The calendar says it was cold, although you can never tell these days: the heat cracks the streets here, and ever since the storm there has been less shade—trees stripped bare and shipped east to pulp to paper. The street lights told us stay, and so we did: orange palm outward telling us to stop or telling us to place something in its hand—a key, a coin, something to give thanks, numbers clicking backwards and the shifting of colors. When I leave you—for just a moment, a small, small, moment—in the middle of the night I keep one eye closed. I cannot tell you why: you and I know that I cannot see in the dark, that with the lights extra bright I can’t see much beyond sweeps of hair and buildings on the back of your shirt. To be honest, I feel the patterns on my chest before I see them. I turn on the light and look at myself in the mirror—one-eyed, blurry, my nose to the glass so I can count every pore if I wanted to, I can see the direction of things. You do not see me like this and I am thankful: you, face to the wall though not closest to the door, and I am sorry—though you can run if there is something wrong. You, beautiful. I see us as if I were watching a film:  the back of shoulders overhead. I can cut though the darkness: the lights are on, dim so they do not wake you, all things blurred yet perfect, the wind generated by the fan, by the soft blow of air from the vent. You fall asleep first: feet frozen, eyes closed. I try to match your breathing: you, fast-breathed, you, smaller. I breathe deep and the cadence is off: exhaling when I should inhale, muscles tense to the five-count. I pull air from my navel like I am about to shout, to sing you the best song you’ve ever heard, listen up, I want you to hear this. I told you about the paper before: how things break and become new: things to write down, notes to leave. And still, we are warm, our arms exposed, our hearts slowed. I tried to tell you this before you fell asleep but you are so tired, I know, I know. I tried to tell you, but I hope you know what I mean. I tried to tell you that I hold my breath to find yours. I tried to tell you but all I could say was

Brian Oliu is originally from New Jersey & currently lives & teaches in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the author of two chapbooks & five full-length collections, ranging from Craigslist Missed Connections, to NBA Jam, to 8-bit videogames, to computer viruses. He is currently writing a memoir about translating his grandfather's book on long-distance running. Follow him on twitter @beoliu.