Forget-Me Not On This Long Weekend



This can’t be fixed with kisses to the temples from three-year-old siblings
or seventeen-year-old brother dropout who tries
and who tries to help pay the bills and take care of the babies;
while nursing his own wounds from our shared demons.
He should leave but he won’t.

Love: hand and belt size welts road our bodies like snakes and ladders,
left overnight from friday family game night. I felt my muscles
harness that pain and bite down, feeding on it. We lick, and lick
At the salt of our raised skin, to clean his taste from our mouths.
Our mothers died before we were born.


Under the scrutiny of bystanding eyes, young or old like my own
but soft unlike my own, they only sense the layer of demon
the devil has ground into my skin. A layer of dirt they’d
love to hide under their nails and cover with their sunday clothes.
You will look away, admonish my word, my truth
because the righteous see only themselves and righteousness.

I found the devil hibernating between pews
and clapping along during sermons and later
after noon covered the outside world in sleep
smelled the mix of cough drops and sex from his linen sheets
wearing yellow from weeks of use and still wet.
He preened over me when my sisters sobs leaked through the thin walls.


No one would think that that spark in my eye
was a bottled scream that couldn’t make it up my throat

and out my mouth. I’ve serviced the devils demons,
who come in after five. Then one night, one took my sister.
I prayed for my brother, a demonesses claws must bit harder.
I’ve never seen a man cry, but there is no man in my brother
Only a scared child, more man than those who know my body.
Our bodies are topographical maps, charting our lessons.
Curses dip the bottom of our lips; we respond with broken responses.

The wrecked wield a hammer trying to build and only destroy.
Then thrown by failure try and smother us. Catch the pieces
between the gaps of teeth and bit down, feed on it. There is not
A warm breast for you, your mother died before you borned.
Only cold searching hands, and lost expressions.
I inhaled secondhand smoke till it saturated my lungs moldy.
I was born my dying mother: a used woman. 


by Corazon Johnston