The longing in my stomach weighs a thousand tons
and I carry it with me everyday
like it’s nothing.
Sweat dripping down my back,
I’m all shivers and spotting vision,
fighting fever dreams about sticks of dynamite
and bonfires right above the base of my spine –
I’m all push, no pull,
ghost peppers tucked under my tongue,
flames licking at the part of me that fears
until I’m laughing because it tickles
instead of burns.
I’m ice cold until it’s after midnight and I am next to you,
thinking of the woman in the laundromat
sitting on the dryer in her underwear
while her only pair of khakis
cycle through the machine.
The hairs on her legs stand up,
goosebumps forming where flesh hits air.
In twenty minutes,
the zipper of her pants
will burn her thumb and forefinger
as she puts them on.
I think there’s something to be said
for the way fire consumes,
but sometimes language fails us—that’s just how it is.
You know that, though, all pull, no push,
ghost peppers tucked under your tongue, too,
sticks of dynamite strapped to each thigh,
your fire scalding the back of your throat—
oh, baby, I know how it burns,
because whenever you smile,
I cough up ash, choke back your embers.
Staring Down the Barrel of a Toilet Bowl
Hold my hair back from my face, remind me to breathe.
Tell me the fluttering of my heart is only temporary.
Tell me again about your last trip to California,
when the wind lifted you beyond the sky
and you looked out the airplane window
at the stars sparkling so bright,
you thought they were all about to die,
all at once, like they had agreed upon it,
Your perspective on the way stars are only at their brightest
just before they stop shining eats away at my stomach.
I fear I may blind you.
Please, stop looking at me like I am about to explode—
like you want to look away,
Don’t you look at me like you’re stuck trying to decide
whether I’d become a neutron star or a black hole,
and just tell me what happens next
when stars die.
Kaitlyn Crow is a queer writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Their works have appeared or are forthcoming in Wrongdoing Magazine, COUNTERCLOCK, and Apeiron Review, among others. They serve as an editor at K’in Literary Journal and Chaotic Merge Magazine. Find them on Twitter @queeryeehawpoet and Instagram @kaitlynwriteswords.