Corbin Louis, Away From Shore

Every step is a time lapse

free falling through the waves

My home is on a shoreline

A town with a storm looming over the ocean


I remember getting laid on Labor Day

in my brother’s room

I had a machine gun for a heart then

My arms spread over the libraries and

wove pages to sunken ships


Growing up is a treasure hunt for broken mirrors

and moments worn to pearl


I remember getting high for the first time

Reality broke with a stone

the sky shattered and giants climbed from

the sun with violin bodies


The earth sat on a girl’s tongue before

another boy snatched it


I remember the night

most of all—

Wet ash on bare toes

Hugging the stars with conversation

on a rusted trampoline


I had long breakups that turned to floodgates

Weekends were untouchable

frozen for the boys to drink blood from necks cut

open like troughs


We did our best to become wolves

picked my scabs till they came back glowing

I didn’t think of umbrellas then or the way a woman can

turn a look into a fire alarm


I measured myself with two cars and an ocean

Time goes faster and lily pads grow from

the dust bowl of my appearance

I’ve learned you can’t fix a person

the only thing to do is love them or

be a dark cave to climb in when crows pass

I too have climbed in the bowls of

many ships


The water breaks to fine salt and cities crawl

from the shore

Every person I know is there sculpting

their bodies in a single face

that says This is where the sea grows old


I’ve seen enough storms to know

waves roll back before they hit the future

The shore grows farther each year


I traveled two decades to get

to this poem

On the way back I found a garage sale

on a desert island

Before returning to the storm I sold my memories

for a dream catcher


Six minutes from now

I trade the dream catcher for a trophy

that doesn’t belong in my home and I’m homesick

from my own childhood


The first time I made love

in a Toyota

The feeling of holding hands

on a school bus

My past is a sliding glass door

latched shut when I sneak home


Sometimes I can’t get into my own


But I make love like I know

how much the furniture weighs


I’ve taken apart

my life with screwdrivers and pills

But every time it breaks down

the skin of my vessel thickens

like the plot does


I know there’s so much

ahead of me

First dates

Hangnails from playing in the wind


Most days I fear

love like a traffic jam

Sadness that fills the bow

of a soul and spills in the flowing



Time doesn’t stop

I’ve seen the swells that lay ahead

and I remember the simple stuff


That not everything is left at shore

I’ve taken days with me

I press my body on the waves

and go towards my destination

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