by Lillian May Rothman


before the war I used to spit at white houses
and drag my nails against the sidewalk
I used to dream of concrete valleys
and neon beacons too blue for the eye

I spent days collecting glass
off tar streets that shimmered
in mid-Atlantic heat waves
and collapsed in dry winters
only to throw bottles at my doorstep
on the nights I was alone

my history is nothing but twilight
summers plundered and magenta clouds wasted
cursing dead grass and oxidizing sewer caps

Stumbling into tomorrow I was unwilling
to taste the notes of freedom in stale air
now I gasp with every futile inhalation
and breathe with each organ in my body


I set fire to an elm tree
until my lungs are smoke
I let the sap coverage inside me
until the sky cleaves open
and it rains
there is often humor in midst of deliverance


when the atmosphere caved in
I was on my couch eating breadsticks
when the news reporter spoke
through tinted fiberglass in a language
I could not understand
I took four sleeping pills
and the next day I took more

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