The Lesser 

by Courtney Hancock
The manicured lawns don’t speak to us or at least they prefer only to speak to each other. After
all, it’s harder to put down a dog when you love it. 
My mother is dying, and no one talks to ghosts. 
I like my side of the fence anyway, where the grocery store carts glimmer on the cracked and upended sidewalk, miles from any store. We keep our couches on the streets and in our yards because we 
don’t get paid enough to haul them away and
nobody else does either.
They smile at me sometimes on my way to school, but you know it’s only for a moment and they
don’t think about it on the way home or ever again. Help isn’t coming, and we all know it. 
There’s at least an honesty in our corruption, desperation birthed by need as our teeth fall out
from the narcotics. She’s only getting worse. 
They fear the dark, because that’s where we breed like rats, gnawing each other for 
sustenance. I don’t know where all this trash comes from when the mailboxes blare red with notices.
She never had much time and never strayed too far—never kept a job but always found what she 
needed to kill herself. 
This ache is bone-deep, and all the streetlights are broken.