Back to Issue Forty-Five

Breakfast (at the School for Runaways)


Every morning I put on my sad gay shoes. Tuesday: blackberry smoothies. Angel has pink pepper spray, but Maddie doesn’t bother. My body is a weapon. I wonder if the world needs me, the small seedlings near the window, the coffee cup on the concrete stoop. It must be carried, yes. It must be buried in the earth forever. I’ve been dreaming about superheroes; some kind of fucked-up justice league. Our flag is rainbow, and Dezi swears so much it’s like they have a special power. When I ask, they tell me smoking crack. But if our powers were combined? If I divide the rain by zero. The traffic out front goes fast, big trucks from right to left, which is backwards. Syringes, leaves. A squirrel comes back to life. When I say our lives are fucked-up, my students team against me. It’s the world that’s fucked-up Erik. My bad. We’re out of sour-brite gummi worms, and when I turn off the blender, I hear the cough of someone throwing up their candy.

“Breakfast (at the School for Runaways)” first appeared in Foglifter


After Hours (at the School for Runaways)


The school’s darkness is a darkness that I know. Hand-feeling plaster from the toilet to the door. Fuck I did lock up already. There’s an ankle in the streetlight, some older kid who’s sleeping on the stoop. White sock I gave him? In the classroom, dust and worksheets, lumps of clay. Angel’s mask is almost dry. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Black eye makeup, black heavy-metal shirt, bone portraiture: a moody Angel. Glue smell I want to sniff again, like chlorine bleach. A hot smell from the copier. Though I’m not tall, or dark, or beautiful. O Angel. There are places I abandoned that are glad that I abandoned them. When I lift up the white mask, his contours fit mine, bone to skin. O teacher pale, O moon, O clock and chalk and windows. Tonight I wear your face—my own—a little while.

Erik Jonah (they / them) has work published or forthcoming in Five Points, Ecotone, Foglifter, the Hopkins Review, and elsewhere. A nonbinary writer, they were a finalist for the 2018 Francine Ringold Award for New Writers and were recently awarded a residency at the Mineral School in Washington. Erik has taught in the Bronx, in Ohio, and at a school for runaway and homeless youth in Eugene, Oregon.

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