I used to hold you
like a shot glass filled
with Bourbon, pressed
against my lips as I shook
my hair out. I never
wanted to treat you
like a wine glass, place you
precariously where my ring
and middle fingers meet,
enforcing no real grasp
on your body. Now, I sip
from Solo Cups and wonder,
no matter how high I got,
was I always meant
to let you shatter?
I Still Search
for you, but I don’t know
where to look anymore.
Does Gabi follow you
the way I did?
The ghost of a heart-eyed
emoji loiters outside Alumni Hall.
We never really dated.
You migrated between relatives
since you were sixteen.
You could not even carry
your dad’s name into adulthood.
I know better than most
that, sometimes, you need
to go by another identity, but I still
check your Insta to confirm
you’re alive. You had this breathy way
of greeting me: how-are-you?
And I half-want to hear it again.
When I met you, you were hooked
on Oxy from your surgeries,
talking about my doctor loves me.
You went back to school, saying,
It’s too easy to get blow in Arizona.
Every time I drive past 98,
I wonder if I turned left and kept
on through the fog, would I still
find your grandmother’s house?
She wouldn’t know me anyway,
but I long for those escapes in the dark-
the constellations like the scabs on your face.
You came back, but I couldn’t—
I can’t. I don’t know why I’m still hung up
on a junkie. I didn’t think you’d make it
to twenty-one, let alone twenty-two,
and I wish I knew why I want to know
who Gabi is to you and why I can’t stop scrolling
down her page, comparing her dye job
and bikini pics to mine. You moved to my coast
and asked me, How are
the beaches in Ft. Laudy? I told you,
I can’t talk to you anymore; I’m sorry.
You wrote, I was worried this would happen.
Text me if you change your mind.
I’ll always answer you, Maddie.
I only let my family call me Maddie now.
When you do it, it takes me back,
and suddenly, I remember
when you were Ryan.
In a city like Miami,
how could you ever get clean?
And if you don’t—
like you probably won’t—
how am I going to explain
to my boyfriend
that I need to go South
for another funeral,
for a junkie I never really
I trusted you when you said
you’d always answer me.
I had no doubt that, one day,
we would be on-again for good.
I fantasized about that day
for years. I imagined running
into you at a G-Eazy show,
at the outlet mall in Orlando,
and at the Wynwood Walls.
I wasn’t sure I loved you
until this morning, when I
heard that you had died.
A few months back,
I mused, again, what if
he was the one, to my friends,
who told me, he won’t wait
around for you forever. I,
of course, knew that you would.
I reminded them, this is the man
who drove two hours through a hurricane
for me. It feels like the universe
is playing me. I can’t believe
I will never party with you in Mississippi
or take photos with you in Gainesville.
All I have left is this numbness
that I refuse to snap back from
because I am terrified
of letting you go.
You were as exhilarating
as a Lifesaver mint in a glass of ice water
when I first felt your fingertips
at my bare sides, and, now, I find
myself breathless by you again
in the cruelest way.
My mind is recalling
every word you said to me:
Being with you is so relaxing.
I wish I could be a good person like you.
I don’t want to remember
the brokenness. I just want to keep
the image of you taking me
for ice cream in your leather jacket.
When you get this, please,
Madison Whatley is a Saint Leo University undergraduate studying Literature. She is from Hollywood, Florida. Her poetry has been published in Furrow, Chomp, Sheila-Na-Gig Under 30, and 30 North.