Back to Issue Thirty-Three

Back in the Day


We weren’t a murder or flock,
but a defense of girls
            bracing for impact.
She think she all that don’t she with her high-yella ass!
Iron gossip gutted into musculature.

The older girls carried knives
            and drew their eyebrows
            into thin dark arcs of war.

The telephone booth at Taco Bell
            we frequented. The useless torn wings
            we licked and hung
            our heads when Five-O rolled by
            prowling for truants:

            older boys carried
            from group home 
            to juvey to our arms. 

Our worries eclipsed by a replay of kisses. 
The pollination of lips. The waiting:
He said he’d call at 2. Give him 10 minutes. 10 minutes more.

In the observatory of mistakes, we chipped our teeth
on stars trying to consume the night, 
scissored our bodies into rations we lured the boys with—
the ones we called ours.

Walking to 7-11, his cheekbones glinting in cigarette light.
Fallen. Got my nose wide open. My lonesome
soothed if only for the moment.


Jamaica Baldwin‘s work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Prairie SchoonerThird Coast MagazineHayden’s Ferry ReviewThe Missouri Review, and TriQuarterly, among others. She was the winner of the 2019 San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference Contest in Poetry and currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she is pursuing her PhD in English at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.


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