Nodding off on the slow I.V. drip
of winter’s third trimester,
we the morphined, the moon-shined,
the induced amnesiacs and the bicycle thieves,
have been schooled that to see sadness in each other
to name it is rude—
a wild act of shaming
one who cannot hide their misery.
My covey and I have
legs like twisted roots,
skin pulled taut,
smiles cracked tight and hard.
Collectively dreaming of an abiding coldness,
our tapped out veins
weather the indignity of warm blood
insisting on the beginning of a season—
One tower is a suburban theatre
The second is built from a list
of inner city mortifications
(that comes with being poor and a girl).
Between them on a suspension bridge
of unevenly distributed memories
is this girl’s heart
punching through sparse expectations,
acquiring a fretwork of scars
as epitaph or footnote
in this first vertigo.
The toll taker dispenses
long distance council.
Ticker tape fortunes
to sort, rank, trade,
as she finds her footing
above loud and ambitious waters.
Redwoods thunder alongside the car,
but my matches are damp
and I no longer collapse time,
only toggle over good ideas
(losing precious moments in the pause).
All I wanted was one year of anarchy
but I came out with a banged up copper heart
as a keepsake and sediment in my voice—
not the canyons and fields of Ella—
I’ve got ocean garbage in my throat,
and not even church basement coffee drinkers
want anything to do with the pain I’m tending
as if I had a gospel hoarding on suffering
instead of this aching addict instinct to burn
brighter than a fire edged hymn.
Shannon Quinn lives in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in The Literary Review of Canada, Existere, Ruminate, Halfway Down the Stairs and is forthcoming in Thin Air and Ideomancer.