Grateful for the Dead

Too many bands were ruined for me
by heartbreak, so I kept
The Grateful Dead in a safe and burned
the key in an anger smelter.

There's Bon Iver whining as I walked
out the door like a soap opera star.

Iron and Wine lulled another to sleep
while I lied next to her.

I torched an Incubus shirt at 19.
I never said I had taste.

But every time I left with
mangled shards of a heart,
I whistled “Sugar Magnolias,” or “Uncle John's Band.”

Fiona Apple sang charming
little melodies from a boombox
on the floor of a subsidized apartment.

I brought one to a concert
and watched her walk out
with the guitar player.

That night, I put “Friend of the Devil”
on repeat for two hours.

This is how I survive love:
keep secrets, hide things.
And when it ends, I lose nothing.
And when it doesn't, I'll have
wasted my whole god-damned life.


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Kurt Olson is a part-time poet, part-time coffee slinger in Spokane. He is the co-founder of Broken mic poetry night. He's been published in things, but that won't change your mind about much. He lives with his kitten, Maui, who thinks she can contribute to every poem with her paws walking across the keyboard.