Mitchell Dallas Herring



Sometimes at night I can hear you dreaming.
You reach out in your sleep,
and occasionally a murmur escapes
as you hold out your hand
over the side of the bed.
One night,
I could hear you being frightened.
In a fit, you pushed down the sheets
and rolled over facing me.
You whispered,
How do I get there? still asleep.
Quietly, I told you, Simply go.
Your body moved closer to mine
as I closed my eyes. I thought
maybe I could dream with you,
and in that dream, we did go together.
I was the person you took
to wherever it was you thought you couldn’t go.




Mitchell Dallas Herring

Mama confronted me with a, “Be careful,” when she found my first love poem. I left it
folded up on the counter above the trash can, meaning to throw it out with the food
we left for the vultures. I’m sure it read like a nursery rhyme more than a love letter,
with terrible end-rhymes and clichéd confessions about my lack of sleep. Mama went
through this with my sister.
Ethan Sharp broke Haley’s heart in the middle school hallway. He asked her
out at lunch when she let him have her bag of tropical flavored Skittles. By the end
of fourth block he had finished the Skittles and broken her heart. “I didn’t mean
‘girlfriend’ like that. I meant, like, a ‘friend’ that’s a girl.”
At home, her wailing synced with the music coming from her stereo speakers:
sad girl-with-guitar music, the only thing getting her by. She locked herself in the
room for two hours before she let Mama in. Inside, Mama held Haley’s head in her
lap on the bed, cooing, “Bug, it’s going to be all right.”
“But he just wanted my Skittles. I’m so much better than Skittles.”
“One day, you’ll find a boy who knows that.”
Mama tried, but no one can soothe the pain of middle school heartbreak. Haley kept
crying because “One day,” Mama explained, “doesn’t always mean tomorrow.
Sometimes it takes years.”
Haley cried again later when it took longer than that.
For my thirteenth birthday, my grandfather nudged me and asked if I wished for
love when I blew out the candles. He’d heard about the poem and asked, “Who’s it about?”
I said, “No one,” retracting my poem’s claim, ashamed I was a boy losing sleep
over something other than candy.



Mitchell Dallas Herring

Doe eyes, stop believing
only the attractive
makes you feel at home.
Think about our trip
to the pound. You said,
“I want every single one!”
I asked, “What about the one
with three legs?” You replied,
“I want him most!”
Love yourself the way you love
mutts in cages, and if you could,
love me that way too.
Love me most.