between our gnashed teeth,
we draw lifetimes across our tongues,
mouths pressed to hot pavement.
summer softens into stiff ash,
smoldering marlboro nubs.
every man prints a smile
over his lips, tastes hollowing.
to an empty night, he begs for ocean to swallow the land.
to bristle his unmoving wife.
sand trickles into flame
& children still molding island
into home burn with the remnants of the shoreline.
concrete blemishes into dust.
when night parts,
there will only be wire
spilling into veins. plastic flickering.
each body ends in standstill:
crumbled sandstone, rotted palm, dead boys’ cotton shirts.
a man lurches towards death,
lands softly. a man is called home.
the neck of the moon cranes
to catch our corpses.
morning is homeless.
is a daughter begging
to an oxidized locket of lost brothers
swallowed in rust.
is a hotel worker offering juice
to soften hearts’ muscle, strip it of striations.
is a closed resort stripped into a hospice scouring
through her own ashes for open beds.
dusk ends in a call for prayer.
few split open their mouths, swelled with ash.
god, save our knotted bodies,
swallow these hundred fallen stones before we suffocate.
we inhale the perfume of a land burning,
nestle the incense between our hands.
soft, burnt sage chronicles the clock
pressing herself into another dawn.
Ela Kini is a student attending Hunter College High School. She has been previously recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. Her work appears or is forthcoming in the Rising Phoenix Review, the Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. She likes to write while wandering sidewalks.