Smoke in the distance is what’s left when the body cannot remember who it belongs to
Lilacs wrecked the sky.
Unmasked, all the little selves
entered pageants, wanting to polish
the bald head of state.
Each one was a runner up.
The stage cowered beneath the weight.
Doors remained shut. Dogs darted
from bush to alley chewing on names.
Because bones were risky. Reciting poems
at midnight, drowning out
folks who serenaded bottles,
empty as regret. Johnathan
abandoned his broom
joined a band of rebels selling wristwatches.
Time was cheaper than talk. Just a few coins
meant you could enter a minute. Stay awhile.
When the tattoos ran out of skin
they started in on organs.
So many stories inked on a liver.
You could read them in waiting rooms
while receptionists placed bets on how many hours
they could ignore you, like a distant, hungry child.
Didn’t matter really. The doctors were always out
of their minds with worry about whether their affairs
would come to haunt their funerals. A circus
of man candy and pretties wanting dedications.
Houses stopped remembering that each language
was a place to rest.
The nightfields called to us, and we tripped
over words planted years before our birth.
Come closer. Carve your initials in our bark.
One day, someone will find them.
Originally from Montreal, Babo Kamel now resides in Florida. Her work is published in literary reviews in the US, Australia, and Canada including the Greensboro Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and most recently in Poet Lore. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers, is a Best of Net nominee, and a six-time Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, After, is published with Finishing Line Press. Find her at: babokamel.com.