Because It’s October, and Rivers Don’t Freeze
Crystal J. Hoffman

I began by being your soft-apple-pink
and just as tasteless, ended up loving you,
condomless fucking beneath church balconies,
and I knew the rash was worth it that time on
the rusted metal paper-street handrails, because
even though you hate Blood of the Poet, I walked
through mirrors for weeks afterward—

honeyed enough to leave me languid
and open enough to tear easy.

I even managed to forget
how much bigger my belly should stick out by now,
because you and I are made like that,
unwilling to foreshadow for the next
fourteen years—
maybe back in the gas-station stall
huffing lighter fluid out of plastic baggies,
becoming irresistibly insane,
swimming naked through the oil on ice cold rivers
to prove that we care that much to live that little.

And now somewhere in the thin forest, between
Pittsburgh and Johnstown,
scratched, bruised, burning with sulfur,
I bleed a little cleaner.

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