Steve Hellyard Swartz

by Best Poem

For the first time in twenty-nine years, she forgets to send me a card on my birthday

Remember the tub in the kitchen
And the floorboards that kept us thin
The front room that faced drug deals and orange safety lights
The back room that the Flat Earth Society named the capital of our 2,000 Nights
The calypso beat of heart on elbow
Cheap St. Mark’s champagne and my first stab at nachos
Every breath
Every breath
Every breath
You take
Remember
The one night in all of our six-year reign
On the Korvette’s rug with the good champagne
It was the night the radio played Every Breath You Take
Like 100 times in a row
Sting has been quoted as saying it’s a song about a stalker, but we were too dumb to know
You don’t know this part
But when you left you broke my heart
When you left I bought a cactus and placed it on the sill by the fire-escape window
Every night after temping I’d sit on the couch and watch it grow
Remember
The guy on the second floor who stole our electricity?
In a birthday card, twenty-two years ago, twenty-three?
You wrote
That he looked a lot like me

Steve Hellyard Swartz is a poet, filmmaker, and teacher. His poems have been published in Best Poem, The Kennesaw Review, Haggard and Halloo, and switched-on guttenberg. He has won Honorable Mention in the 2007 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. In 2008, he will be published in The Paterson Review and the Southern Indiana Review.

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