I was born March 27th, 1994,
Eighteen days after the death of Charles Bukowski,
Though they said it should have been nineteen.

I was born in Florida’s lively downtown Jacksonville,
When the roads were still smooth,
And The Landing still busy,
All of which has changed now.
The Landing is deserted except for a tourist shop,
And the roads are always being worked on, but never improve.

I grew up in a red house that’s now beige,
And I can only imagine what inside looks like—
My purple room painted
By numerous families I’ll never know.
The vine fence my mother put up is long gone,
But the play set built for me still stands with patches of mold and confused moss.

They say moss always grows to the North,
So maybe that’s what pointed my mother this direction.
I’ve always wondered where it sent my father.

I entered first grade with an accent,
Teased for being unable to “properly” pronounce three.
Winter confused me,
And I have always been stumped on why it lasts so damn long.
While everyone fit in with ease,
No one would let me forget that I did not belong.

I graduated with an unweighted GPA of 87,
Though I failed gym three years straight,
Always passing by one point out of sympathy from the coaches.
Surely even they knew I did not belong.
I spent more time reading in my car,
Even more time skipping school just to drive away,
Maybe in search of somewhere that felt natural.

I never attended graduation, prom, homecoming,
A single sports game, any type of lower class dance,
And very rarely attended first period American History.
I spent more time calculating the hours until I could leave town.
I spoke often of moving to many people
Who never seemed surprised:
They always replied with how I never did belong.

I moved away,
Then moved back,
Feeling discomfort everywhere I went
That was not nestled in a notebook
Or a novel—
Words were my only consolation.

I was born March 27th, 1994,
Eighteen days after the death of Charles Bukowski,
Though they said it should have been nineteen.

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