Dear Jude I

Dear Jude,

I miss your smile as I flip through my old pics of you on my phone.

I miss your early morning alarms when you get up to go to work. I miss you coming home smelling of chlorine, your hair still damp from the pool.

I miss how you dress: crisp & handsome in a suit, a matching pocket square at your breast.

I miss us all hanging out: JB spoiling the ends of novels for you; Malcolm sketching buildings in the armchair; Willem sprawled next to you on the couch.

You were the most interesting of all of us. I’m just the writer, documenting your life.

I miss you.

I hope the trail is going well.



Who am I?

I ask,
& you tell me:
I’m your oldest & dearest friend,
I’m a reader, a singer, & a mathematician.

When I wake in the night,
(disoriented, drenched in sweat)
you’re there to hold me,
reminding me that you’re here,
& remind me that it’s over, it’s over, it’s over—

In these moments,
when I’m running (wildly) lost along a dirt road,
you call my name,
drawing me back onto the correct gravel path,
drawing me back into myself:
You’re the guiding lamp leading me home.

As I follow your words—
the bobbing light in front of me—
I come back to myself:

I am Jude St. Francis.
I am your boyfriend.
I was treated horribly & came out on the other end.
Most importantly, I was always me.

If I am Jude, then…
Who are you?
I ask,
& you tell me:

I am Willem Ragnarrson
& I will never let you go.

10/4/2020 (edited & expanded upon 10/5)

Notes: This is one of my favorite scenes from A Little Life. When Jude, who is plagued by nightmares, wakes up disoriented, he “wakes so far from himself that he can’t remember who he is.” Willem, his boyfriend, chants “him back to himself.” (Pgs. 607-608, Kindle version.) The italicized lines are either directly from this scene, or paraphrased slightly to fit the poem. As always, thanks for reading!


Bending the air while doing breathing exercises is a struggle:
If I can bend the other three elements so well,
why can’t I airbend?

Listening & seeing trouble ahead is a big problem for me:
I bend before I speak,
using my muscles before I think (sometimes)
I know I’m young & brash,
but that’s just who I am right now.

Tenzin says I have to listen & then weigh my options,
which is a gift given to too few people.
He says I need to flow like the wind, move like the air—
I’ll figure it out someday,
I’ll learn to move with the wind at my side,
tangoing with the air.

(modified & edited 7/18/2020)

And when you think how much she struggled to learn how to airbend ...
Airbending | Korra | Legend of Korra | Avatar | (gif) | Avatar ...

Reichenbach Fall

If only everyone could successfully fake their own death,
just like Sherlock does in “The Reichenbach Fall,”
we wouldn’t have to worry about dying.

The pavement would be splattered with fake Halloween blood,
& your tears would mirror my tears of poorly-timed laughter.

If only I hadn’t watched Requiem for a Dream
the seedy drug underbelly filling my mind—
if only I hadn’t thought I could subject myself to dark narratives,
but my head whispered to me, “You can handle it.
You’re already full of dark thoughts, go for it.”

Now, I press my head against to metal of my lofted bed & sob.
I’m still childish in freshly grown adult skin,
& need to find ways to put on my adult suit & dress slacks.

My favorite kinds of characters have always suffered:
Sherlock, Jude St. Francis—
That’s why I’m drawn to Sherlock, to Jude.
They pretend to be removed from their emotions,
from their humanity,
but they are actually becoming more human every day,
thanks to John & to Willem.

I miss you, my friends.
Know that I am well
& trying my best to stay afloat in this new sea.
I wish you weren’t gone.
Let’s have dinner sometime.

(edited 7/17/2020)

Please note: This is an old poem from college. It doesn’t reflect my current mood or state of mind. I’m doing so much better! I do, however, appreciate how far I’ve come in my mental state & the time capsule it represents. (I still am drawn to Sherlock & Jude St. Francis, though.) I do not think that we should fake our own deaths. It’s cruel & unnecessary to our loved ones. I’ve spruced up this poem, because it’s old & needed to be dusted off.

Dear Jude

I miss your cleaning. I miss hearing you trot out arpeggios in the middle of the night on the piano, when you can’t seem to grasp reality. I miss your cooking. I miss the sound of your voice, even when you’re angry. I miss the looks you shared with Willem; I miss you looking at the rising sun at the office. I miss your smile, hidden behind your hand. I love the sound of you singing in German. You’re one of the smartest men I know. May I give you a hug? Would you want to go for tea sometime? I miss the sparkle in your green eyes. I love how ruthless you are in court, how you glue everyone’s eyes on you. Don’t let the old bastards get you down. I love the way your hands move across the keys of a piano, how they finely chop onions or carrots. You’re the most sensitive person I know. Don’t worry, JB was right: It will get better.

Thank you for your life.

I miss you so much.



The Boys of Hood Hall

Jude &
JB &
Willem &
& Malcolm.

You are a found family of Peter Pan’s
a brotherhood built from the ground up in Hood Hall,
friends through shithole apartments
& ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends,
starting at the bottom of the law firm/art/architecture/film ladder
& working your way up to the top floor
to push your way out onto the roof
standing side-by-side, fists raised in triumphant

You boys have consumed me with your
houses, art openings, films, & your presence in the court room.

I love you all & hope you’re doing well.

I miss you all.

edited & expanded on 5/5/2020

Dear Willem

You compiled my life for me—
a spreading accordion of file folders labeled Jude I Jude II Jude III Jude IV bursting with awards, photos, certificates, love letters, JB’s art, & my legal documents

With you,
you shone like the Sun,
brightening the white-washed walls of our apartment

Your jumper cable arms
wound around me kept me safe
from the snarling dogs of my mental illness

I’m in denial.
I’m hardly living
in this hollowed-out shell of an apartment we called home
I’m a zombified shell of a man, wandering, without you

Why didn’t I just retire?
Why didn’t I just grit my teeth & endure sex?
Why didn’t I become a kept man
like you said, so we could travel together?
I’d cook for you,
I’d sing to you,
I’d hold you close.

I know why: Because I thought my work was my fucking life, my fingerprint on the world
I should’ve made more time for you
I should’ve stockpiled the sound of your voice,
the sandalwood perfume you wear,
& have a chemist bottle your very essence in a jar
I should’ve recorded our conversations,
snapped more pictures,
taken more videos of our life—
thirty-fucking-four years—together

I should’ve cared less about my crystalized past & cared more about the love you showed me in pointing out the monarch butterfly’s wings
I should’ve cared more about your mantra: I am Williem Ragnerson & I will never let you go

I should’ve counted my blessings:
my adoptive parents
my talented friends
rather than believe the lies my abusers told me
but their words leave their scars on my forearms

I should’ve asked for help.
I should’ve ignored the shit my fucked-up head told me,
but the hyenas keep skulking in the trees.
I should’ve realized that you give me a quiet mind

If I had to do it all over again,
I’d stop cutting earlier
I’d re-learn how to love myself
I’d go to therapy for all the abuse I suffered
I’d learn how to mistrust that little voice in my head
I’d listen to Andy, Harold, Julia, JB, Malcolm, & most of all you—
Willem, you cared more about me living than I ever did

I hope the shoot is going well
I miss you so much


edited 5/1/2020

Note: italicized pieces are from A Little Life & Blue October’s “A Quiet Mind,” respectively. Other references to A Little Life are un-italicized.

Hold onto Me

Note: This is not a personal poem.

You keep me sane amid the winter’s bite,
in between raised webs of scar tissue
& sticky streams of blood

You keep me warm in this drafty room,
using your tender kisses
& your fierce hold on me to blot out the chill—
the muscles of your biceps & triceps
knotting, bunching, & jumping like cable wiring
while I shiver, shrouded, in our cotton bedsheets

You weigh me down like a stone,
even when I struggle
to slip out from under you,
like popping to the riverbed’s surface to gasp for air

You keep me sane in the winter of my mental disorder,
restraining me from the black-blue bruise of evening
to the pink-cheeked flush of morning
fighting your drooping eyes,
fighting me
& my itch to drag a razor across my forearms,
my desire to make my tributary veins weep rubies


Note: Jude to Willem, two characters from Hanya Yangihara’s A Little Life. Self-harm is a very serious subject, one I do not condone. If you or anyone you know is going through a rough time because of the Corona virus or something else, please seek help. You are not alone in this. This poem is a sign of Willem’s ability to help his boyfriend through rough times, particularly the trauma he suffered from when he was first a boy, and then a teenager.