Rocco, Patron Saint of Pestilence
You do the Monday crossword, cheating frequently
because your mind works in no way
you recognize. It is a machine with oiled
buttons. You used to run
to catch the 6. Fuck
athletically. You took everything
for granted. Strength is a lie
that makes you fall in love
with life, then crumbles,
revealing paper bones, flayed
myelin, clotted milk. Remember
how easy it used to be? Hunger,
sweat, song, the unfathomable luxury
of pounding your body like asphalt.
Sickness is how we touch God, stickily,
salted by fever, brainworm
pop becoming prayer – I’m a slave
for you – that baby voice gasping
to the beat like lust is a virus
attacking the lungs.
Now you’re paying
attention. Now look
how grateful you are.
In the Dream, I Go Back to Cincinnati
Graeters is wallpapered in stripes. Barbie pink, hospital white. Alps of ice cream under gleaming sneeze glass. Every customer here remembers me. That’s the girl who won the spelling bee. Who cried on the bus. Wore the wrong jeans. Wrote the names of her tormentors on the soles of her Converse. Mary Anne. Petra. Lynn. I walked over them all day long. Hard to know the villain in any story where all the characters are little girls. I await my scoop of mint chip. Outside, the sun melts joggers and their obedient dogs. The waitress approaches in her striped apron. Cosmic-egg pink, sclera white. I can’t be sure but I think she’s the one who fed me a sympathetic cigarette in the stairwell outside the theater building the day the girls dismembered me and threw my meat to hungry pigs. She invites me to a party. I must have gone because there it all is on Instagram. The DJ in his fedora, the backyard transformed to an exotic petting zoo. Red velvet cake a blood clot on my chin. I look bad in all the pictures. I’d always thought people hated me for me. What a relief to know it’s my face they despise.
Sera Gamble's poems have appeared in journals such as Harpur Palate, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Bodega Magazine and Sky Island Journal. She also writes for film and television. Sera is a first-generation American living in Los Angeles.