6:47 a.m.

We stand on the subway, tethered to the greasy silver handrail like sad balloons, and then we get off at our stop and wait for our transfer on the next platform, each one of us a flaccid lollipop covered in lint.

Lacking water, sometimes our mouths move and no sound comes out, but we don’t mean to disappoint. We apologize. Our bellies feel filled with sawdust, our mouths feel filled with the too-thick spit that comes after eating too much chocolate, but we didn’t eat any chocolate today.

We read an article about the most successful people in the world injecting themselves with young people’s blood so that they can live forever. We add a packet of hot chocolate mix to our office coffee and call it a mocha and almost smile.

We squeeze lemon wedges in the afternoon, dropping their juice into our eyes to stay awake.

Our eyes creak when we rub them before falling asleep, creak like the bedsprings underneath bodies we used to love, fucking someone new. We touch ourselves and melt into burning numbness. Our legs kick in our sleep, wanting to go somewhere, dance lessons from a ghost that wants and dreams.

A scream sits like a tumor in our throat. It comes out in translated waves, first as an exhale like any other, and then as nothing at all, and then nothing again. Do we remember the taste of how things used to be? Now we let cotton dissolve on our tongues, rarely swallow, rarely blink.

In those restless dreams, we just got fired from a job and we have nowhere to go and we gasp for air in between uncontrollable bouts of laughter and sobbing, and sometimes we are chewing on leaves and pulling at our mother’s sleeve, and other times we are touching our fingertips to the lips of everyone we’ve ever known, and very rarely we will dream of stepping out of our bodies, becoming vapor, leaving the rest to become moss and twigs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #2: Word Salad, which required that the words bolded in the text must be included. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.


Julia Purks is a recent college graduate living in Boston. She is a queer woman with plans to go to medical school. She draws inspiration from the human body and mundane moments.



Ontario, Me and Tommy T

By A Jackson Beam / 2018-04-04

In the Absence of Your Father

By JoAnna Pollonais / 2018-04-10

Saturday Nights In The Wash Tub

By Herbert Woodward Martin / 2018-03-28

Falling to Bits

By Ailish Annie James / 2018-04-13


By Gregory Neil Harris / 2018-04-05