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Sestina for Your Dead Heart

Read by Kimberly Quiogue Andrews

for Celine Dion

I tell you about the little heart that beats in the dead.
I am not dead you say. I am not dead so my heart
beats big
you say. My heart beats like a Sony Walkman,
big, duh. My heart is a teenage girl’s eyes, it’s 1998
and Leo will hold on, won’t hold on — the ship is not a little
heart — it’s like God will sink this ship. Why not? This ship beats

like a motherfucker. When I undress, your wrist beats
and I want to sexy talk all over it. Your wrist is dead
weight on my waist. I watch TV and get a little
turned on watching reruns, knowing whose heart
will get eaten last. It’s not like it’s 1998,
and we still have three years till the iPod gives the Sony Walkman

a firefly heart. The firefly died on the day, my Sony Walkman
somewhere out in the desert. Your heart beats
slower in the desert air. Your desert heart is so 1998.
We should be big heads on a movie poster, dead
trumpets left in shallow graves, and your heart
nothing but a spit-stained trombone. This is a little

honest, but I love it when your mouth is a little
shut. I love it when my headphones crackle, when my Sony Walkman
has that little red light. The batteries are dead my heart
whispers in the sexiest falsetto of all time. Really, it beats
the falsettos of the boy bands on my ex girlfriend’s wall. She’s dead,
not really. She’s holed up with some guy she met in 1998,

the same year she saw Titanic eight times in three weeks. In 1998
I was too young to know how to cry with my shoulder blades. Little
by little I crack, her voice a symphony I mute. Your voice is dead
when I’m underwater. I’m flying Jack, I’m flying. My Sony Walkman
is dead when I’m underwater: the batteries don’t say anything: the beats
stagnate. I build your heart a replica heart.

I tell it stories of how it’s so much better than your real heart.
Your replica heart scratches, skips. I blow on it, but it’s not 1998
and two years later the world won’t end, but beats
in your heart will go on. I’m sad enough that a little
piece of me is stuck under a punctured life raft. My Sony Walkman
is an iceberg melting in bath water, almost dead.

Let me draw your naked heart on the couch. My Sony Walkman
is stuck in 1998, is stuck in Rose’s cold breath, almost dead.
It just beats like it only knows how to a little.

Gregory Sherl currently writes poems in his childhood bedroom. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Gargoyle, Bryant Literary Review, Los Angeles Review, Night Train, Chiron Review, Eclectica, PANK, and elsewhere. Gregory can be reached at