Mea Culpa

Tyler Cummings

To the pens
with dried up points
or unclicked tails.

To the mothers and fathers of mine,
to the siblings I never call, and
the things I was doing
while I wasn’t around.

To the people I see but don’t talk to, and
the words that are a better fit
but take too much time to think of.

To the early hours of the day
that sit on the edge of my bed
and sneak their shoes on,
slipping out the door and
sounding an unset alarm clock—
to the 16-hour day I traded
for a 24-hour pillow.

To the dreams I’ve woken up before,
to the melodies I’ve forgotten.

To the ways I could have been and
the healthy foods and empty glasses, or
the homeless veterans with cupped hands.

To the half-loved skin—
its dormant shyness
bare and trusting.

To those once held—
the embodiments of a nested mallard’s wings,
their bills the shape of orchids
that bloom hidden under docks, and
dams that were built in ode to fear.

To your time
and care,
to your beauty.

To the unwashed laundry that moans until it’s ruined,
to folk singers I love but don’t pay to see,
to the advice I misuse,
the ideals I manipulate.

To the things I’ve forgotten to try—
to the venoms of a Colorado river toad,
to calamari and saying hello.

To the silence of eyes met,
the birthday cards, the chirps of birds
behind a closed bedroom window,
fresh air and breathing deeply,
homemade food, homemade comfort;
to selfless incentives,
to slowing down,
to the past, to tomorrow,
to the dirt under my fingernails, and
to the friends,
to the friends—

like museums filled with twelve-second glances
and tired legs,

I’m sorry I abandoned you.

Tyler Cummings is currently studying psychology and literature. He actively writes poetry, prose, and short stories. E-mail: tylecc[at]

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