He is my friend
pretending to be my lover
I am his lover
pretending to be his friend
and we both squeeze
our reduced version of reality
into what little space
is left in our crowded lives
to accommodate each other.

Our parallel pasts
bend and intertwine
and get fenced in
with barefaced euphemism
and wrap a wool blanket
around the naked truth
to protect it from the cold
so that its equatorial senses
might possibly
survive the winter
and stay alive
a season longer.

He tells me things
in private
so effortlessly.
He repeats the same things to me
in public
mimicking the effortlessness
so that the judgmental world
would not catch on
that I already know
so that it would not ask questions
how, or since when
and I pretend to enjoy the game,
play the part,
react accordingly
for everybody to think
he’s the same brand of
“nothing” to me
as he likes to make believe
I am to him

all the things we cannot say
in their hearing
all the parts of what’s real
that we leave out of the equation
push the truth
away from itself
an inch at a time
definition and connotation are
an 18-hour
transatlantic flight apart
and we excuse it,
as we’ve been told
lying by omission
is not nearly half as bad
as lying by commission,
that half-caste babies
could pass as white
and be thankful

so I talk myself into
accepting the necessity
of a hunger I cannot feed
turning every stone
in the river of his
on-public-record words
hoping some secret message
was left there for me to find
digging for morsels of comfort
that he might have designed
to pass through
the sieve of their scrutiny
while the voice in my head,
the one that can’t be silenced,
he were braver,
more honest,
than that…