Self Medicated, Lullaby, My Baby Shot Me Down

by Claudia Osei-Asante




My mouth waters when

the lighter flickers bright for the first time.

I touch the pretty tongue

to the end of a fat ‘rillo stuffed

with girl scout cookies. Inhale.

Murky smoke fills my throat and lungs

and I savor the taste of bitter recklessness.

Exhale. The thick cloud seeps

through my lips and nostrils,

circling around my head like cherubs

waiting to shoot.

My vision goes first, short and fuzzy,

and my eyes cross back and forth

over each other trying to focus.

My stomach feels hollow

and for once I can eat food and

not numbers.





No one ever read me bed time stories,

that’s why I digress.

There were no “once upon a times.”


I sleep under the sound of static,

and not the atmosphere

of a lullaby swaddling me to sleep.


Nobody hears when my voice

cracks sore within a wet pillowcase.

I feel hollow,

like I’ve had the marrow

sucked out of my bones,


like my skeleton’s been hung on a doorhenge,

rattling like wind chimes,

empty echoes ricochet through the wind chill.


There’s no heat in my room.

I pull the sheets over my head,

tuck them under my feet and

fall endlessly, intricately, asleep.




My Baby Shot Me Down


I was fine and he was sick.

Like lightning he struck me,

congealed me into glass.

He saw right through me.

I fell from grace, feathers in his teeth.

I was plucked, skinned,

and loved.


Baby-doll brains, I prayed he’d die.

Lips sealed like unbothered zippers,

arms bruised with water-color blue,

I hit the ground.


Death was best remembered

painless, cold like solitude.

I took secrets into my subconscious

to dissipate; they came to surface,

resurrected. I couldn’t go home.


He left slower than he came,

slower than his hands took

to find my face and still I loved him.

I don’t know why.

He used my bones to pick his teeth

and for that I’m grateful.


But I knew he wore too much red like Lucy,

and I was gone when they slid the pistol

into the palm of his hand,

I was gone before I knew how wounds

could fester yellow.


I was gone when I fell so deep my wings

couldn’t catch air beneath them anymore.

Bang, bang, my baby shot me down.

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