I MISS THEM WHEN THEY'RE GONE
Ants bubble up from the rain. Fill
plaster pores I have
yet to duct tape.
Leak into junk drawers, drip out
of soup pots.
We’ve done this before and oh my god
I need them gone. Their determined
toward kitchen cans. Parades gripping ankles,
scouting a home in my hair.
I cull with chemical trails,
suck them into whirring dust
cloud. Press my thumb
to their fragile bodies, gift
a unique tread of death.
If I’m quick, they collapse
the pain of our wanting, gone.
Bury the survivors with their dead
friends, in alley dumpster, shallow
graves of plastic
body bags. Apologies behind
I lay awake in bed while phantom
legs search my spine. My neighbor’s porch light crawls
through the blinds, the only way
The house is empty, loneliness
I wished for. Serrated
BROWN SUIT, SILVER LAKE
A half block ahead, adjusting your shabby blazer.
Shoulder length bob bouncing
in metered rhythm as
you find your confidence.
You are soft bodied and soft hearted but your teeth are sharp
for someone new. She’s waiting
at the table for you, by your own design.
A test taught by older brothers,
she stands to ace. A kiss on the cheek,
a notch of security gained.
You have a seventies flair, a nice guy under
cut with traditional values. You’ll tell her to
order anything she likes. The girl across from you is freckled
and liberal arts educated, her name something floral
Chrysanthemum. Hyacinth. Or Calla.
She orders a complicated cocktail just to show you she can
tie a cherry stem with her tongue.
The night goes well because you’re charming, non threatening. Because
you’re the kind of man who looks at a woman and knows
she is someone’s daughter.
You mention the spliffs back at your studio apartment
and she obliges.
This is the stage where things feel exciting. Ironically watching Destiny’s
Child music videos, on your unmade bed,
until you politely ask to kiss her.
You feel lucky
to live in a generation where girls hook-up
with thrift store suited, wispy mustache boys.
Where riding in your jalopy, smoking clove cigarettes,
spells hip instead of scrub.
A time where girls use you
to get over their crypto bro ex and you are happy to assist.
You pretend the night means nothing but we both know
your phone will be filled with poems
about the way Amaryllis bloomed
under your trembling touch. The way you plucked off her lavender top. The ways
you wither once she ghosts you.
And I write my own poem about you, after
you turn left and I kept straight,
onto the grocery store where my partner waits for me
to fall into synchronized domestic step.
MY THICK THIGHS, AS LOVERS
Volatile mistresses, hungry for each other’s touch.
Sticky, clinging kisses on a summer day.
Fireplace embrace through Christmas tights, electricity
that nylon can’t tame. Try as I might,
setting spandex curfew, building
silk pillow moats,
they always defy
my rules. Star crossed lovers, clandestine,
clashing their way to scarlet
blisters. In jeans, they recite obsessive odes
through denim, teasing every magnetic word
until the seams burst.
THE LAST TIME YOU VISITED ME
your father’s grave was fresh
on your face. You sat
a chair away, no longer risking
the electric scrape of our knees. My new
cat transmitted my longing
at your feet. Ignoring allergies, you held
her in palms I used
Seven months later, you’re both ghost to me.
Her, euthanized. You, estranged.
I think of you, as boy
in baggy suit, declaring “only the good die
young.” I wish you weren’t right. Buried
bones: my cat
and the missing girls on the news and
your parents. Please don’t make me
keep going. I’ve already sent you
five texts without response. The pulse of my phone, a prayer
for your come back.
If you live
in the same place, our streets touch
and tangle a couple
miles away. But I haven’t gone
looking for you. Instead, I stay
inside most days.
I like the way it feels
to be a statue. Stone and static
and safe. If you change
your mind, you’ll know exactly where to
ANOTHER GHOST POEM
You were named after an eccentric writer so you think you’re interesting.
Think you’re so difficult to love, it’s easier not to answer the phone. Your love language is “get the fuck away from me.” My love language is “tell me the 350th thing you like about me and when you noticed it.”
I dated another writer and when I told him his poetry was good he said it better be
since he had a degree. I could have loved him if he wasn’t an asshole.
But you’re not even an asshole. You’re indifferent to it. I don’t know where you are now or who you’re with. So in dreams you’re always aloof and dating some girl skinnier and more pleasant than me. She doesn’t have a temper and she’s not bossy.
I like that in dreams you pretend you’ve always been nice to me, like a friendship can sustain itself on unanswered questions, forgotten texts, deleted communication. I always have to be the one to tell you you’re a screw up, in front of your perfect dream girlfriend,
and I look like the villain.
I tried to play cool for seven years of my 20s and it got me fucked up, taking daily Effexor, and crying while I write notes on my phone naked in a cold bath. God I’m always in the bath writing about you. Growing colder and wrinkled while you’re thriving. You’re probably living somewhere tropical and disconnected while I stay in this city. Hoping to run into you and not that poet ex.
My real boyfriend in the other room ready to love me at any time
while I grieve a ghost.
A PLACE BOUGHT IN HEAVEN
Forgive the sins of oil barons, war mongers, greedy
thieves. Plaster their faces
on six o'clock news, call them hero. Death
apparently washes blood off your hands. Picks
the bones out of your teeth
and assembles them
into carnage halo.
We love to pretend. To ignore sordid pasts, tout
success and celebrate celebrity.
Is the militarist government shithead really a murderer if
the corpses were from families struggling
to eat? Was the tech mogul’s false testimony truly a lie
if the stocks rose in deceived ecstasy?
In life you may be a villain, in expiration
your statue is guaranteed. A gift from tax reserve,
glutton gloating grin, immortalized
in marble. Commemorated
patriotism. in the shadow of a flag,
towering above a town
where the lead water
poisons the free.
Hadley Dion (she/her) is a writer, audio editor, and filmmaker from Los Angeles. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Scapegoat Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, FreezeRay Poetry, Nixes Mate Review, Olney Magazine, and more. She spends her extra time volunteering at her local cat rescue and crafting punch needle rugs.