Headlights carve open the fog
to the mountain yawning before us
a mariana trench spiraling to the sky.
We trace promises in dust on the windows
murmured aloud, they fade between our lips.
Ahead, tar pits bubble at the wayside but
don’t look back either, just in case
nothing’s there unless we build it.
You can lose yourself
on these roads at night my grandma tells me
to navigate the dark
I need a light.
So you press a match to my smoke
lock eyes draw your hand back instead
of leaning in close like you used to kiss
the cigarettes together
proxy wars have casualties too.
We hit black ice on our way home
to each other
crashes you can’t see coming
until they’re underfoot.
The ditch rises to meet me in slow motion
now I’m lapping at the tar
it spills down my chin & my cupped hands
supplicate please, stitch my throat back
together. Having surgically removed my voice
you let the radio play static in its place
sing along like it’s Johnny Cash
to pass the time
I will hack at
the wound in my chest
knows pain and vacancy, besides
you liked me hollow.
Jaundiced fingernails trace the fate on my palms.
I called its path love, inevitable. Besides,
I liked me helpless
so nothing was my fault.
I smoked lead to fill my depleted veins
worship is the practice
of hoping it to gold. At confession
I peel skin back until
I am bare
anoint my feet with bile; I deserve nothing more
than what I am. Maybe some peoples’
life force is asymptotic –
do you call that wasting time?
Tallulah Brannigan (she/her) is a queer poet living and studying in New York. Her work can be found in Rejection Letters, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Resurrection Lit. She tweets @vaguelytallulah.