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
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,
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.