Artwork by Lily Furedi©
Second Degree Murder
I shot the girl who became a wasp in my sleep, who planted dragonflies
under my tongue. For days, I’d wake up with bite marks that disappeared
in mirrors. I felt those old city urges to fly and crash, to skim flames.
How could I not taste her? On the subway, I was still dreaming. I dreamt
that she bled ribbons and water lilies, yellowed pages from old love letters,
fluttering lies. We bled each other’s blood. Shooting her was a mistake.
She’d have more reason to cling. The guilt made me transparent. At city
councils, could I erase the murder with a smile? Could I jump and never die?
On the fifty-second floor of a skyscraper, I felt smothered. I opened the window.
Below, there were a thousand girl-terrorists looking up. They wanted back
their broken wings.
Guitar Hero with Missing Tattoos
I followed my guitar hero onto the F train.
He was a scrawny kid with flyaway straw-colored hair,
scars on the back of his hands in the shapes of katydids,
maybe baby spiders. People paid him with a token’s worth
of confessions, used lottery tickets, photos of lost
and almost-found children. The guitar hero played them flamingo
and simple ballads. An old woman in the seat across mine
denied the existence of Canadian sunsets. Some looked straight ahead
as if the kid wasn’t there, as if the city could not hold swans.
The kid got off at Noho and I never saw him again. For weeks,
his voice filled our shadows otherwise damned to despair.
The city became an elongated chord. At night, I heard dog whistles in my sleep.
Before she died there were bottled rumors of her neglect.
There must have been an army of centipedes beneath the rain, promising revenge.
With shaky hands, she gave me pieces of a jigsaw puzzle as a last wish.
She said she could never put it together. She and I were pieces that made up part
of a sunset. She went blind before she died. On the subway, I handed the pieces
to everyone. In the last car of commuters, we could breathe in tight spaces.
We could survive train wrecks. When war was declared, we sent in our best sandmen.
The sun blinded us at night. By morning, we were victorious.
A homeless girl who was selling dirty boot for loose change smiled sunrise.
Subway Blues #4
All day, we travel in different trains to judge our distance.
We make love behind dirty windows. Or pressing our lips
to those same windows
to form the contour of an embarrassing wish.
We pick pocket the strangers who own useless schedules.
We wave to each other from empty trains in opposite directions.
When I finally catch up, you are somebody else.
I reach into a dark forgetful mist.
I heard that it was an autistic child
who invented the idea of trains under ground.
Kyle Hemmings is the author of several chapbooks of poetry and prose: Avenue C, Cat People, and Anime Junkie (Scars Publications), and Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction (NAP). His latest collections of poetry/prose include You Never Die in Wholes from Good Story Press and The Truth about Onions from Good Samaritan, Future Wars from Another New Calligraphy and Father Dunne’s School for Wayward Boys from Hammer & Anvil. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. He lives in New Jersey.