(Illustration by Nicole Fang)
Richard Montgomery High School

Poem: how hard it is to sleep in the middle of a life

so many tragedies coursing through this blood, alive and electric, 

haunted by Phlegethon’s unnavigable currents humming 

like a razorblade pressed to skin. 

 

when night falls: a poet, a jester, a spectator, speechless 

at where your kneecaps press against breathing soil, confessing

all the ways in which you have sinned — howling, trembling 

at the scalpel’s strict signature across your bulging vein 

carving out a slow death of broken memories through sinew

and fat. let the expired peanut oil wash over your famished mouth 

like the niagara, chugging black tea powder with water

 

till you choke up coins. dusty and bleak. because what else

 

is there to lose? who can you believe now? the xī wáng mǔ/yǜ huáng 

shàng dì/guānyīn/no deity? you turn against the windows of Rochester 

and beg to fall back asleep within entangled dreams in hairnets. 

to avert your eyes from the righteous. to forget hands licked

by hot oil, scars and burns like ophiolites, the infuriating buzz

of blotched blades tearing through bathroom tile and fractious

midnight shivers like napkins in the sooty wind. your fingers 

 

begin to reach through spiral gaps surprised to find themselves

 

still breathing. breathing. beneath the soft rain, you toss your head 

back: mouth closing and opening like fish. you want to make love 

to the night, find it while it is still soft as eraser, 

before it pinks & tighten the womb as it enters like a kiss.

memory welts inside you, siphoned from your lungs through 

the embowed lunette, where the sun hangs like a flame.

Fiat lux. 

 

The light caresses so softly you could cry.