Matthew Robinson CC
LULL ABIDE BYE BLUES
We were children, glint of bright eyes, taking tests.
Just learning to flirt those Friday nights
at Element, the local church, indulging
in pizza & prayer, dodgeball, the gaming
room. Our worship of screamo, piercing vocals,
distorted guitars & glittering synths—so
caught up in the stage, gleaming. But who knew
how this sparkle could turn: strung out
in the frequency of fluorescence, gasping
from phantom cigarettes on a basement floor.
The residue on spoons & bitten fingernails. O to crush
& be crushed. What a wonderful world
of despair. I sat with her in her loneliness;
we met on Halloween. Started to date, only 13.
It was okay that she was high—she was
prescribed. Doctor’s orders. Did they know
the sickness they induced? I soon found out.
The youth consumed in trending depression,
fed in the depths of radio static; waves catering
to the depravity of suburban blocks. We carved
our names in slabs of concrete, the backdrop
of industrious ruin. With blush on her cheeks,
she lured me in, calling from the basement.
Pinned me like a luna moth for her display
case; I couldn’t reach the light. There was no
consent. She said: To have the bliss & beauty
you want, you have to have the strength
to endure it. So she fed me the sickness:
Ambien, Percocet, Dilaudid, Xanax, Trazodone,
Dramamine, Coricidin Cough & Cold. I helped
her get them from her mother’s safe. Picked
the lock with a paperclip, not knowing what
I had unleashed. She smacked me till it felt
like sunburn. Spit on my face. Put cigarettes
out on my wings. I threw up all over, over
myself. Witnessed static circle ceiling tiles
buzzing. She hammered needles into my lips:
Quiet now. You will know what it’s like to be
Jesus. At the very least, she freed me to dig
my own grave. Is there such a thing as make-
believe? I chose the cemetery, near the play-
ground where we first made out. I made sure
that it was deep, between the rusted jungle
gym & merry-go-round; dandelion fluff
swirled in the air. Bled myself dry like bone,
sawdust. Left no headstone for my memory.
Coated the earth with chrysanthemum, petals
of toé pink & white, nicotiana rustica, & stone
pine. Scattered the dust of my wings atop,
antennas splintered. I then was lowered.
I put razor blades upon my eyelids—a hollow
tip above, aimed at the sky. Planted a seed in-
to my navel as she buried me. In ash. In the butts
of her Newports. Powders of crushed pills.
In yesterday’s trash: plaster, asphalt, gravel,
the shattered glass of vodka bottles, a bedazzled
syringe. Topped it off with the blood of her
moon, cackling. Sealed it all in plastic wrap held
in place by paper parasols. At the very least,
the overgrown grass wept with morning dew,
glimmering. Three days dragged unto decades.
This must be what Heaven feels like, I thought,
& in the softness, deadening, the katydids called back.
for Matt Smiley
Bought it at the gas station
on the corner
of Chalmers & Warren.
Thought it only cost you
a dollar. It’s a damn
shame you feel
so ashamed. Your bed
like a dumpster
you lay yourself to rest in--
but you will not go gently
for you rage. Lighter on high
to torch the crevices,
to torch the heavens.
A burnt out bulb:
light coiling resin, juice
fresh out of desperation.
You don’t look right
into my eyes but to the earth
you know will sweep you
up. Turn your blues
into a purple reign,
king. Here’s how:
we’ll post up in the trap
till the early light. Play
Dominoes & Spades
& best the dealer
at his own game
in his own house. Pull
Big 6 at every turn.
Call deuces wild
& witness the bids fall
in our favor as the bags
beneath his eyes
pile up. Our possessions,
think that we are trapped—
but we are trump, &
they will find they are
the ones who have
Justin Groppuso-Cook is a Writer-in-Residence for InsideOut Literary Arts Project as well as a Teaching Artist for Living Arts Detroit. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, Rust + Moth, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry among others. He received a 2015 Pushcart Prize nomination for his work featured in Duende. In 2022, he will be a resident at Carve Magazine’s Writing Workshops Paris. More information can be found on his website, www.sunnimani.com.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.