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Brian Builta

Dear Austin,

I used the last of your Burt’s Bees. Also drank the last of your Gatorade, ate your opened raspberry and vanilla crème cookies, the plastic paint can of pineapple Mike & Ikes, your pizza-flavored Goldfish. You had just bought them and I didn’t want them to go to waste. Plus, my hinges had come undone and I wasn’t functioning properly. I prefer not to think of myself as a vulture for using your new orange work gloves until they are black with sweat and grime, for using your collected knives and whetstone, your blue anvil to prop a door. As I gush with one of your pencils into one of your notebooks to avoid the meltdown procedures, I wonder what is wrong with me, so much comfort employing a dead boy’s detritus. I devour loss like a sentimental vampire, sucking what nearness I can from inanimate objects. If you were here I would devour you too, an ever-shrinking relationship built on loss. I will suck the bone of this loss until the marrow sings in me a lullaby.


One mass,

Kneeling after


Tears come

And won’t stop.

Head bowed,

They gather

In the lenses

Of my glasses

Two clear little

Saltwater pools.

Two tiny oceans

Surging and ceding.

One body

Circling another,

Tide in, tide out.

The gravity of love.

My Thoughts Are with You During This Difficult Time

We’re never really ready, the card says,

as if preparing for a party that never happens.

So sorry for your loss, as if

the keys will never turn up.

Sending love, thoughts, prayers and peace

but no booze.

Grieve well, as if

grief is a kind of achievement.

With deepest sympathy, as if

sympathy can be measured in depths.

Shallow sympathy for your loss—it could be worse.

Neck-deep sympathy for your loss—bigger than a pet

but not as deep as a child.

No one ever says here’s a load

of half-baked clichés, so glad

it’s not me, or good luck back at work

with the bloodthirsty jackals ruining your productivity.

How refreshing to hear, just once

Let’s get shit-faced. Let me be

your first mate as we sail tonight

into oblivion. All this shit will still be here

when we get back.


Brian Builta lives in Arlington, Texas, and works at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. He has had recent work published or forthcoming in Jabberwock Review, Juke Joint Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, New Ohio Review and TriQuarterly. These poems are from a manuscript titled A Thursday in June, written in the wake of his son’s suicide at age 16.


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