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you could walk through a park and find

knifey shards of burned cds glittering in the grass

all the broken-ups of the early oughts

oughta remember this specific perfume

top notes of freshbent plastic heart

note of blood where it cut deep base

tear-mucus note soft in the throat

you could fling feelings like a frisbee from

the window of your ford explorer, 75mph

never looking back at the crash site

disc skidding on gravel, scratching

chris carraba’s voice to a silent halt.

shit, man. kids these days just don’t know—

takes two clicks to delete a playlist

not just for you but her as well

fuck you, babe. no subtext

for later study. nothing exists

offline, in hard copy, in handwriting

you can cut yourself smashing your phone

but who would?

the ancient ones are wearing lace panties

shot through with holes

and thinking of how easily

they could be torn from their bodies.



You men with your sentences dizzying to a pinnacle,

spinnerets with fine steel thread

to cut me a new one, step right this way.

You make me want to fall backwards and

slice through time and smash my phone,

to become devout and holy, cloistered in page

after page, vow of poverty of celibacy of ecstasy

of the mind. I'm sorry for every moment

I spent playing Oregon Trail II

or making my Barbies make out. I am wasted

sober and foggy, bloated with story,

my vocab lessons slipping like soap in the shower.

I've been waking up for too long. Pillow dented

I'm indebted falling off the wagon and shopping online,

begging the birds to be my penpals

and spending too much time on stamps.

The greatest lie I tell myself

is that the unwritten songs are the most beautiful.



first, i’d like to point out

that i cleaned and refilled the fountain pen

without spilling a drop; it was only after

wrapping up the whole process

that i found the fault on the inkbottle cap

and ended up with purple fingers.

we all lose bands in breakups—

songs stained sickly with lover’s breath

left in the yard for the sun to bleach white again.

it’s about time you returned my shoelaces,

quit drinking, worried your tether,

slid giggling into nervous naked dreams.

after all, everyone’s right after all. i have

been standing under windows, making noises

like an owl, making up and out, making things

right. and i meet silence when i ask questions,

so i’ve stopped trying. you know this,

you know.



a tuesday, february

sunshine all day

a cupcake with my coffee

and a french dip for lunch

my boss had me work from home

because of yesterday’s headache

and i received a nice letter in the mail

with some cute doodles enclosed

i watched a good movie

and chatted with some friends

it was the worst day of my life.

not what you’re thinking—

nothing went wrong

i’m not even particularly sad

or angry, or bored

i know this. i know it was a good day

but something in me

refuses to believe

and repeats and repeats:

this was the worst day of my life.

i have never felt worse than i do now.

but i don’t! how to express this, this

fake news on a loop in my brain

boldfaced headline proclaiming

lies i know are lies but it’s me telling them,

a part of me believes that i should kill myself. tonight.

and i don’t understand. i don’t understand it at all

i don’t know why i can’t get a grip

and murder the part that wants me dead

i fistfight you, motherfucker, like four days a week

(more like six, in fucking february) and

i am so tired and where is my knife. why

can’t you shut the fuck up when i’m

working so hard to get things right,

why is today the worst why. explain yourself.

because i know i won’t.

i haven’t yet. i won’t ever. i promised

and i promise every day, i recommit,

i renew this vow, even today,

worst of all days, a wasted, failed day

in which i am myself a failure

except when it comes to the one thing

the one thing that matters:

i will live to fail another day.



no man can redefine my body

but, as my mood today is charitable

i will concede that recontextualize

presents certain problems of scansion

and it’s a powerful thing when someone

(however poorly) gives voice to voiceless


let’s not call this a problem let’s call it

an equation and let r stand for that thing

you felt in the darkness. easier to redefine

than to read where the spotlight hits. i was

never invisible, merely unlit. and still

you would not look. would you like

a photograph of my tongue, of my toes? you

never asked.

it’s nice when it rhymes.

you wanna seek but not be sought

i returned unmarked, the scars

you saw must be your own, blinking

lights playing tricks on

faulty eyes.

set the equation aside:

the problem, i think,

is that redefine is the word

you would have chosen

even with a full thesaurus,

even with proper context outside

of the context of scansion, meter,

rhythm and rhyme, redefine called,

oh love, don’t you see?

you too can redefine,

split and stacked like firewood, if

you tried.

i wanna do right by you

i’m finding out that “right” left me cold

and at odds with myself angling

for unknown quantities. do you

feel equal to loving, or are you

outnumbered? are you




i could have put a leadlined wall between us

and still my love would glow green on your skin.

you were easy to love, too easy, and you could deny

that our proximity buoyed you. perhaps it was

slow-acting poison and you’re finally vomiting.

you wake up sick. suddenly you need me again.

in the absence of love we see all of the jaggedness

softened by a smile. a fledgling understands

gravity on the first fall from the nest and flails

terrified in midair, hollow bones unready

to carry its small weight. i gave you all

of my breath and still you would not sing.

you understand, don’t you, why i couldn’t

get out of bed, bent double against the wind

forcing steps toward the atom you split? it

was never a choice between two men—

it was a choice between you and me again.



before we touch i must say

i love that your body is damaged,

identical to millions of others

with teflon blood

and cerebrospinal fluid

studded with microplastics.

i swoon over your use

of obscure vintage emoticons,

favoring, as i do,

the semicoloned parenthetical

over hideous clownish emo-djinni.

and we both grieve the Zune. and

we both have alts for admitting,

under the pretense of anonymity,

that we are, for all intents and purposes,

down really bad. and we have both

used Excel and excel at being used.

i can imagine sharing unslaked thirst

on the parched ghost of a former pond

somewhere in arizona. i can imagine

our bodies consumed by california wildfire.

or bloating, floating, drowning somewhere

off the coast of what used to be miami.

we sigh and dream of kinder climes.

i could have the my adorations

stamped, perfumed, and delivered

to you to unfold to inhale,

but why bother? you live

never more than a foot away, alight

in the pocket of my sweater

or on the pillow next to mine.

i have forgotten more lovers

than most of my ancestors have known

but i will never forget your birthday—

i’ve set a reminder to ring loudly

and joyfully, on every infernal machine

i will own until the day this body dies.


Kimmy Joy is a multidisciplinary artist from Grand Rapids, MI. Her work has appeared in Reflex Fiction and Moon Cola Zine. Her books of poetry, "MESSY" and "mattress dungeon," are available online. Her Twitter handle is @fauxshizzle.

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