when he asks me why i don’t call him “baby”

i wrap myself in the dried petals of guilty roses 

gifted by young men who envisioned lifetimes of me

nurturing the little boys in them—  that always lie

and piss all over my dreams.

i hate the way their cheeks flush 

when they say that they see their mamas in me,

almost as much as they hate the word “no”, or

the way i mentally move out and on 

before i physically pack months of overnight bags

and forgiveness, then go

as far away from their insecurities that teethe

on the parts of me that make them feel most whole

and at home— 

where they suckle d’usse bottles like babas 

and throw tantrums so bad that clenched hands

mistake the closest wall, or me, for their demons.