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  • Writer's pictureMarías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Rachel Small

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Arsonist Lover

She breaks cinnamon

sticks against her

teeth and pretends

to breathe fire, of

dark red smoke that

might curl from her

tongue. She imagines

pressing her mouth

to his and meeting

his teeth with her own,

making him feel a slow

burn as she presses

him against wall and

sets him on fire

with her own hands.

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

We all listened to Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

and laughed, as we tried to twist cigarette smoke

into rings. It was dark and we were crowded around

the old record player, trying to hear past the skips and

the jumps.

It played the way my heart beat. Eagerly and all at once,

lurching forwards and backwards without bother. We

all laughed but it was my heart playing out on the record

player, spinning in a lonely circle, again and again and again.

I grew like a flower on a wall, pale and unimportant as the

other flowers grew up in the cracks of sidewalks and along

old abandoned warehouses. Those were the flowers we

all stopped to admire, with their lipstick-ed confidence

and bright faces. We never stopped to look at the miserable

flowers along the wall, with their wilting faces and desperate

smiles. Those were the ordinary ones, never kissed in the

pouring rain and with the horizon humming with thunder and life.

We all listened to Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

and laughed.

So Tiring, Being That Girl

Being that girl was tiring but

you held yourself together,

a bit of wire pulling skin

and bone into a shape of a girl.

You tried to be that girl

who ordered almond milk

chai teas at the coffee shop

but you missed the fullness

of the real thing and instead

became that girl in the leather

jacket, heart stapled to your

sleeve. It throbbed, though,

against your wrist. You could

never ignore it and had to

twist into that angry girl at

the protests. You cared far

more about the sign you

carried than the cause you

walked for, and eventually

your heels blistered in those

black boots you stomped in.

You blossomed into that girl in

flower crowns who read the classics

out on a New York park bench.

It was a shame when your face

burnt bright red from the sun

and blistered, because you liked

being that quiet girl who drank tea

black and fed the stray cats.

Instead, you memorized old

black and white movies and

wore red lipstick that stained

your teeth. You considered

smoking but remembered

the pictures of lungs

split open, black and oozing.

The idea of being cancerous

made you feel like all that you

ever were was that girl made

up of charcoal and left smears

of ash in her wake.

Rachel Small writes in Ottawa. A post-undergrad student from Carleton University’s History program, she is currently a writer and editor for AtticVoices. Her writing has appeared in SPINE and Pulp Poet's Press, and she has work forthcoming in The Hellebore and Apathy Press. You can find her on twitter @rahel_taller.

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