the flesh of my inner right elbow


Do you know what the door sounds like
              when the nurse has to slam it for privacy so
she can say all in one breath:
                               and with that gust of air
                               I know she felt my life
                flash before her eyes, i know she
saw us dodge a bullet together
                a child-sized bullet with your green eyes
                               so green it makes the both of us sick
Do you know how hard it was for her to see me,
held together by scotch tape.
Have you ever seen a dam break?She has
               goddammit, do you know what the skin
               on the inside of my right elbow looks like?
                                             Bruised and mottled like a purple crocus
                                             stepped on by calloused feet and
                                                                           shoved into its crook.
                               But that’s not
                all that happened that’s not
what this is.
I felt a piece of my soul collapse and fly away
               when the needle pinched my flesh and
                               two lab test tubes were filled
                                              in the search for any pieces or parasites you
                                                             might have left inside me.
                                                                            Do you know how hard that was for my nurse?
                                                            She could have been
                                            me, rotting from the inside
                             scratching my own skin off.
How does it feel to know you made my
                                            poor nurse watch that
                                                         with her soft hair and kind eyes,

                                                                                       I can’t believe you’d do this to her.






there was a classroom on washington street
in a tiny red brick building that felt like it
held the world swallowed up in its belly
like the watermelon our teacher ate
in the fourth grade wing
where the new girl was forced to sit next to me.
as fate would have it O and P are next
to each other as far as the alphabet and opium
and the two of us
are concerned.

she had hair as long as rapunzel’s except not at all
because it was dark and split and all her
family could afford was two-in-one shampoo
but at the time i didn’t know her
ripped green leather sneakers and
stitched up patched up hot pink and purple mexican jacket
weren’t fashion statements they were
i shook her hand
and she shook mine.

we stacked our binders in between our desks
just like the other kids did and i thanked god
that my mom fucked up when reading the supply list
just like hers did because it specifically stated
“one zippered binder”
and her mom couldn’t find an extra one of those
to steal from work but my mom just ignored the instructions
because she found me a really cute pink one.
so neither of our binders zippered
and her coats didn’t either.

eleven years later she was legally allowed to do everything
she had been doing since she was thirteen,
since i was sixteen.
on that birthday she played guitar on a broken stool for me
while i laid on her bed (an air mattress)
the air tasted like 7-11 pizza
and the fresh turquoise paint her landlord
slapped on the walls of her lopsided apartment.
if you swallowed up the entire world
she would probably be the only watermelon seed
who hates the color blue.

her fingers plucked strings and the music on her breath
was as beautiful and terrible
as each of our respective opinions
on opium.

she cut her hair
cut her wrists
cut our pizza with two plastic forks
she tried on outfits that resembled table cloths and
ballerina suits and halloween costumes
but they didn’t look like hand-me-downs anymore
they looked like fashion statements
she made statements like
i’m not gonna make this month’s rent and
i’m gonna start a band
she placed records by bands i’ve never heard of on
her player and she’s been a player
ever since she dropped out of high school
i’d never tell her but i’ve always thought she
had to learn the rules to this game too early
she knew about winners and losers
before she tried opium
before we shook hands
before our moms forgot the
binders we needed were supposed to be zippered
i asked her why all the songs she sang
didn’t make any sense and
after eleven years she said
didn’t i tell you?

in fourth grade
all my brother ever did was unzip me