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Sera Gamble

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.





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