Dr. Valentine Blows a Curse


One spring break down in the Rica, Rick
got Live Fast, Die Young on the back of his calves.
Now they read: Live Fast, Die Young Last
because Mercy’s got a baby. But it’s not trending,
and baby is a metaphor for mutual. Their mothers
say they’re about to know what the real deal is,
tilt their heads toward each other like new friends.
Still, Rick is going back to college, out of state,
and Mercy’s staying local; she’s not so vocal
about what she feels, but her body’s changed
and changing. She’d like to go to college, too,
wishes she could go somewhere hot in winter,
but for now she just wishes she were thinner,
and that the baby on her hip would sleep.

Laura McCullough

Laura McCullough’s most recent book of poems is Rigger Death & Hoist Another. Her other books are PanicSpeech Acts, and What Men Want. She is the editor of two anthologies: The Room & the World: Essays on the Poetry of Stephen Dunn, forthcoming from Syracuse University Press, and A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race, forthcoming from University of Georgia Press. She is the editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations.