spit mixed into your sweat,
so when your pores reek
with narcotics all you can
taste is a nine to five
and the mountain biking trip from your twenties
in mexico, where they dot their beers with lime
and their workers with sunburns
because to be the strongest
august heat can’t melt anything
but ants under a magnifying glass

brown bag lunches
and a pesto stained
wife beater hidden
under a suit coat and tie

the gin masks the street signs
that the schoolboys beat down with bats.
the girl you picked up down the road
can’t wipe away your blind spots,
though she looks like your high school
girlfriend - barbie doll who blew you
in the bathroom stalls between classes.

you wonder what happened
to the racecar lunchbox
you had when you were ten

there are babies in cribs built on
old motors and worn engines,
with shards of glass caked
in their fingernails and motor oil
stuck in their teeth,

who grow up to be the boys who draw
pictures in dirty oil
in car hoods
clean consciousness with the coffee soaked in creamer
the babies who draw trees in sidewalk chalk
that daddy washes away with a hose
because pictures don’t make money

keyboards click like insulin bags

the gears are whitewash, they dissolve.
eroding with years of craftsmanship soaked in vinegar
            in champagne and two buck chuck
where they’ll bob for apples in
cinderblocks and cement

office holiday party
office birthday party
tequila like fluorescent lights

you won’t remember the names
of the ones who left
left jack alone in the hotel
with hallucinated liquor and a frozen maze
you’re starting to see yourself in jack
in his rationalities
ditch the city job for cold murder in a blizzard

because the red walled bathroom smells
like vodka and it matches the pills you gargle
when you can’t sleep so eating sandpaper and
soaking your liver can only help to bring back the memory
of the vomit you sprinkled into the toilet, the toilet at the gas
station where you vowed not to go to college, the briefcase your
mom bought you when you said you were moving to the city
and the flask your dad put in it when mother wasn’t looking,
the reflection of your sweat on the linoleum when you were
rejected at your tenth interview, the dive bar you went to after
your first day in the corporate drain where you taped a calendar
of sunsets on the wall because you were never home in time to
see a real one.

S. Makai Andrews spends her time jumping between lake and ocean in Los Angeles, Michigan, and New York. Her work appears in Coal Magazine, Jackelope, and Beautiful Minds, among others.

:: more from this issue ::

Three Poems

Francine Cunningham

Three Poems

Mahan Ellison

Bones and playing pretend

Amogha Sridhar

City Folk

Nonnie Augustine

Four Poems

Fisayo Adeyeye

Two Poems

Sunayana Bhargava

Desk Job

Makai Andrews

Two Poems

Wilderness Sarchild