Spring 2018 Poetry

Selling Candy in Heaven | Alex Hughes

Can the child selling candy on the subway

call it labor if she doesn’t know any better?

She asks if I “Wanna buy a chocolate?” and

proffers a box of Snickers—but all I think

is it’s after eight and school’s coming early

the next day; how many hours till she wanders

home to sleep in the hole she considers luxury?

Do you think she’ll dream of something

she’s never seen? I shake my head and

send her away, but can’t shake away the

echoing of her tired refrain—Wanna

take pity on a piece-of-shit upbringing?

but it’s a man’s voice using her skinny legs

and hand-me-downs as a mouthpiece—

no one else seems to notice anything

out of the ordinary; they just study the

flashing tunnel lights, heads bobbling—

are thoughts of injustice, gratitude, sadness

rattling around in there, or are they dreaming,

reaching for a world they know is possible?

Maybe they can’t fathom someone else’s reality,

though the Dickensian piece of evidence

waits by the door, holding candy she can’t eat.

At the next stop I watch as she steps onto

the platform, looks around, then approaches

a woman and baby that’s working hard to sleep

in what it thinks is a bedroom. Beside them

a man sticks his nose in his kid’s business,

acting the muscle and taking a cut,

then faces her with an odd combination

of love (because she gives him money) and

what looks like disgust. But the little girl looks

upon the mean face of her conductor with adoration—

for such is the power of youth, to believe

everything is sacred and nothing matters, to see

the game in what’s mundane—and a finger

that must be mine touches the thin pane of glass

separating us: let her believe, let her labor

under the assumption that work is play,

let her live a little longer in heaven, for it will all

come crashing down sooner or later.

 


The Female Became Deceased in the Alley | Pesach Rotem

“After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley.”

From a court document filed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in connection with its investigation into the Minneapolis police shooting of Justine Damond.

Justine Damond was a yoga and meditation teacher.

She moved from Sydney, Australia, to Minneapolis, Minnesota,

To be with the man she loved.

Their wedding was scheduled for August.

The female became deceased.

 

There is no Kitty Genovese scenario in Minneapolis.

In Minneapolis, when we see (or hear) something we say something.

We fulfill our responsibilities as citizens and as

Human beings.

She became deceased in the alley.

 

It was late at night on July the 15th.

Justine heard screams from the alley behind her house.

She called 911.

When the police arrived, she went out to meet them.

The female became deceased.

 

Officer Noor, from the passenger’s seat of the squad car,

Shot through the open driver’s-side window.

Officer Harrity, in the driver’s seat, escaped unharmed.

Justine Damond did not.

She became deceased in the alley.

 

The state BCA is investigating.

The officers’ body cameras were off.

Officer Noor is exercising his constitutional right to remain silent.

We might never know why it happened.

But the female became deceased in the alley.

 


11:01 p.m. | Taylor Ramseyer

Do you remember the stars from that night? They were glistening, winking down at the world, but looking down on me with pity. “That poor girl,” they said. “Why can’t she just say “stop”?”

 

Did you hear the way Benny and the Jets was sounding through your forty-year-old speakers that night? I used it to distract myself from my inability to unfreeze myself until I melt away from your touch, your kiss, melt within your interior where your hands can’t touch me. I use to love that song. Every time I hear Elton John through the radio now, I have to leave the room, or turn the radio station. It doesn’t sound the same anymore. It sounds more like I need it than want it.

Did you hear me saying,

 

“Hey, it’s getting late. You should drop me off now,” or

 

“Hey, we have to go,” or

 

“Hey, it’s almost my curfew,” or

 

“Hey, we have to go we have to go we have to go” but in my head, all I was screaming was,

 

“I want to go I want to go I want to go. Stop. Stop stop stop. Get off of me. Don’t touch me there, don’t dig your fingers there, don’t stick your tongue there. Stop. I want to go.”

 

Does it get me in trouble that I can never have the courage to say no?

Does it get me in trouble that I just always want to please everyone?

Does it get me in trouble that I don’t want to hurt people or their feelings, that I don’t want to disappoint people? Even when I end up hurting myself and hurting my feelings and disappointing myself in the process?

 

You weren’t looking at the stars. You were too busy pulling over on the side of the road while I was questioning why you were doing so. You were too busy knowing that I would be too shy and nervous and scared to tell you to stop. You were too busy using my niceness as the compass that pointed you South, a place that didn’t know what no meant but it knew what it felt like.

 

You weren’t listening to Benny and the Jets. You were too busy listening to my heart bang on my chest like it was trying to escape. It was screaming for help, banging and banging and no one answered. You just listened and laughed at the struggle. You herd the way my voice was shaking. You heard my rigid breathing, but you must’ve thought it was a better beat than Elton John.

 

I was scared. I tried to tell you to stop in so many ways.

I didn’t want to hurt or embarrass you, but I did that to myself because you didn’t stop until you got tired of listening to my urges, my pleads.

 

My curfew was 11:30 p.m.

 

You pulled the car over at 11:01 p.m. We were only a mile away from my house. You planned on having sex while I was planning on staring at the clock glow in the dark until you scared me more.

 

I’m uncomfortable.

I’m concerned.

I’m scared.

I’m angry.

 

I should have told you to stop, but you should’ve known that that was what I had meant.