o Neil i remember when we built

o Neil i remember when we built
a better mousetrap, how all the pieces
covered your living room floor—forest green

like your knees as you walked into class
because you fell off your bike
while blazing through the rain.

and Neil i remember the songs you taught me
from your old Scout Troupe that we sang
as we stomped beaten paths and you made me

a whistle from a piece of straw;
we became little birds and perched ourselves upon the earth
to let our baritonal harmonies ring.

Neil i thought of the game of hoops in gym class
when you passed the ball and i winced as it hit
my hands; i fell on the ground and was surrounded by red jerseys

(we were blue) and you reached out and grabbed my feet
to drag me to safety across the gym floor i handed you
the ball and you scored: SWISH!

Neil, if i recall, you told me i could never be
a priest not because i did not love the LORD
but because the LORD didn't love me

because i had kissed the wrong set of lips—
you said i could pray for forgiveness
but you would always know what i had done.

Neil i hope your fingers didn't break
like my heart did when you said those things
because at least i still want you to play the piano like you did before.

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