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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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WE ARE THE LIVING (SKELETONS)

 

Afraid of what I would think, Jean waited

before showing me a picture of herself

as a teenager. Skin like a pale rubber glove,

it hardly stretched over her. Her beauty,

vacuum sealed by the overwhelming pressure

to be less. She looked like a maple tree

in late November—unwound, bare. Applying

a decade of waif-like inspiration which told her

to reject her natural self. Jean and I,

we weren’t so different then. We each tried

to climb the turning rungs of our DNA

out from an existence of pale eyes and skin,

chipped teeth and protruding hips. Starved

and self-destructive, as if we believed

we could reset our bodies, hollow out. Look

at our ribs, our collarbones, like our shirts

are white sheets decorating the ground

of a crime scene. Smiling, she is skeletal,

a dried up well. Histories rumbling

below our surfaces.  We are the living

skeletons, the bare structures

of your city, trying to rebuild in the wake

of everything we left behind.

 

—Michael Sarnowski

 

WHEN WE FIGHT


                                     it feels like a first kiss.

A fresh bruise on the lips. A canvas cut

with switchblade strokes, no color, no image.

When we fight you don’t pull punches

and so far you haven’t missed. I am a refrain

of dial tones. You are an electric nightmare

of blown circuits and tangled wires. Together

we are a grand finale set to stars and stripes

forever drowning each other out. Our words

are imposters, grenades rolling with tumbleweeds.
They are traitors bricking glass, a riot in the streets

just to navigate our past. It is here in the debris

where we met, where we tried to burn the blueprints

of our hometowns. Still, I’ll ask you to dance

once more, we can count each step by the rise

and release of air raid sirens. This is the music we make

and it never plays softly. It hums like an anthem

we take turns conducting. I still fall asleep

with your anger on repeat.

 

—Michael Sarnowski