Sigh. Lent.

Today is not a day for words:
they evaporated when the sun rose, violet pink and red,
this rose sun, melting the day before.
They’ve lost all meaning, these words,
these words I loved the day before,
beating page thumping at my fingertips,
pulsing hymns of hims and hers and theys
and souls and images.
But now all I see are shapes, hollowed,
carved out silhouettes of what they meant
empty as a shadow. Meaningless-pointless-shallow
shapes. I’d rather sit outside bare in the cold
chilled bones from sitting too long on steppes
of stones, feeling drops of rain dampen my cigarettes,
than sit at home writhing in papercuts,
hemorrhaging feelings.
The day before words were so much more,
but not today, because
today is not a day for words.

Do You Like Me? □ Yes ☑ No (aka The Art of Keeping Up With Innocence)

Sixth grade roaming an empty elementary school
hungry, but we didn’t know
for what. One day left, then, Summer-
and the heat goes up like teacher shrugs
for homework and nobody cared.

Justin was cool- backwards cap, and young,
and pretty, and a boyish face.
Jessica was tall like high school, and I
heard she got expelled for smoking weed
in the girls bathroom.
Tamara was black and bored and blue all over:
anything anyone ever said she made pretty,
mean faces at.
Tanya had shiny hair
down to her shoulders,
a simple but bright smile,
her brother or dads oversized overalls.

I liked Tanya, but Tanya only liked to hit me.
“Two for flinching bitch,” she would say.
Punch, punch, and sore arms.
We played spin the bottle, because Justin.
Second turn I spin, and it lands on Tanya.
She looks at me and laughs, loud. “Nope, no way.”
Nobody minds. They shrug and we keep playing.
Even I understand, because reasons.
Spin the bottle turns to spin the Justin.
Tanya kisses him and her face shines Christmas,
like what she always wanted. Jessica pretends
to enjoy it and Tamara gives him a peck on the cheek and
blushes.

The girls smoke in the girl’s bathroom, the boy’s don’t.
Justin looked bored because we didn’t have much to talk
about, but we weren’t old enough to know that,
or have phones
to pretend to stare at
awkwardly.
He said he’ll be right back, but then he wasn’t,
and Tamara walked away like I wasn’t even there.
Then Jessica left.
Then Tanya left.
No one is in the hall and I’m going to go see Michael
because everyone else is gone
and social embarrassment hasn’t dawned on me.

I’m about to leave but an arm grabs from behind
and shoves me into the stairs. I’m scared and I see
it’s Tanya. She liked to hit me. I’m more scared so
I closed my eyes and I braced for punches and sore arms
but nothing is happening. I opened my eyes and
she was standing close enough that I can count
the denim strips on her overalls. She leans in,
she kisses me? Is this a kiss? I’m confused and
we stay like that for a while. I stop, to breathe.
She leans back and I’m confused
but happy? Because she saw it on my face and laughs
again,
loudly.

“Tell anyone I’ll kill you,” she had said.
“And two for flinching, bitch”
Punch, punch, and sore arms.