; (Semicolon)

Version I

When a sentence could have ended,

but it wasn’t.

 

In the mouth of the Nushagak River

the tides recede.

The endless sucking

muddy banks, the sun lingers

on the horizon, an orange dull-bright

suspended over the water;

the orb’s reflection stretched

and distorted by the

fuckyou-chops of the uneven ocean

who doesn’t want to be there either.

The ocean punches the boat punches your chest

when you reach for the net stretched beneath the surface,

swaying like ghost hips to nomusic,

and that goddamn sun

clings to the sky edge

at 12:17 AM

before she

begins her ascent for the

45th straight hour.

Just hangs there

like the hesitation of the last dollar

before it descends

into a busker’s guitar case;

like the carouser that doesn’t want

that can’t go home quite yet,

the hosts don’t have the heart

to kick him out until he stumbles

into the curio with the porcelain birds;

like a former lover slowly

collecting her belongings,

her eyes stumbling

and you stop yourself from saying,

“I love you,” out of habit

;

the sun eventually descends

after a week or so.

No one comprehends the dark when she does.

Everyone admits how much they miss her

when she finally goes.

 

Version 2

According to grammarians,

a semicolon is used

when “…the sentence should have ended

but didn’t.”

There are semicolons

in most my previous relationships.

Those moments

when the relationship should have ended,

but didn’t.

 

With Jessica

it was the moment she cheated on me,

for the second time,

with a homeless man.

In her defense,

she apparently thought he was really into camping.

 

For Andrea,

the semicolon came

when she attempted to introduce cutlery

into our love life.

With a demonic sparkle in her eye,

she thrust at me repeatedly

yelling “How do you like it?”

It is one thing to try and steal somebody’s heart,

it is another to run after them

with a scalpel and surgical scissors.

 

For Jonathon,

the semicolon was probably the moment when we first met.

I tried to tell him that I don’t think I am gay,

but he went down on me anyway.

Two whole minutes of slurping spaghetti.

 

These moments,

when you know the relationship is over, but it doesn’t end,

Like the Alaskan midsummer sun

lingering on the horizon,

before rising again,

refusing to let go of the sky.

 

For Rachel,

it was when she told me she wasn’t hungry, yet I held her hair as she vomited the contents of the dinner she never ate.

 

For Brittney

it was the moment she began bleeding from both nostrils.

 

For Christina

it was the moment she saw her life

as a hole

and tried to fill it

with as much Tylenol as possible.

 

Even when all the signs were there,

telling me that the sun has already set,

I attempted to repair a still-burning bridge.

While nobody remembers how to use a semicolon,

I use it far more than I should,

because I want to be the grammarian

that abolishes all periods,

I want novels consisting of

a single run-on sentence

continuing long after the last page has turned,

because no matter how terrible it gets,

there’s a moment when the sentence started,

when you knew the joke was stupid,

but she laughed anyway;

when your outfits were ruined by the rain,

but you kept dancing;

when you both left the party

to spin on the merry-go-round in the park,

There’s the hope the sun lingering on the horizon

will rise again

and the day will keep being today

as though there was never a yesterday.

 

I know how Rachel suffered

through my drunken stumbling and holes in the drywalls.

How Brittney never flinched

every time I called her a whore,

and then allowed me to take it back.

How Christina took the razor

from my trembling palm

and we both went to get help,

 

I keep holding on

because there are times

when they didn’t let go of me either,
because even when the sun goes down, it comes back up,
because we are all independent clauses

without conjunctions,
we all need to keep going
and going even when it should have ended.

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