Emily mack age 18


poetry, 2014

Last Mile


Street lamps line the way home

like a peachy chorus


midnight meditations along

roads that yield construction.


The rubble and dead leaves like

the revving of some engine, they will

show us some way better than a compass

app better than the right way.


We don't need a car.

We don't need a map.

         We carry destinations under tongues

like candy, wandering in and out of gas station glow

like we're slow-roasting, like we're already

half-way there.


Remember popsicle sticks & canoes?

Remember sailing down cracks in the boulevard

like it was the styx, destinations under tongues like gold coins.

Something finished.


We marched under the sky as if we were the lamps.

As if we were some a peachy chorus

seeing only what lay directly ahead.

Cerebellum Song in which the Chorus Rings High School, Go Mustangs!

after Richard Siken


Every night the coffee breath.

Every morning the coffee breath

       of fresh air on a wednesday morning

       for the fallen homies that got arrested out by Oz

the other night, the fallen homes

every night the coffee breath.

       I wonder what I'll look like when I'm thirty-seven.


So maybe I thought that summer wouldn't end.

So maybe I thought I could change the world

       without getting out of my chair and that

       a song would be enough.

We aren't allowed to hum in this house.


The bell rings and class ends and passing periods

bend fresh love through stunted conversations

so maybe I can't help but love boys so skinny their

hipbones bruise my thighs.


Dear Harry,

Best friends never taste the way you think they will.

Don't beat yourself up about it.


Don't beat up cab drivers, I tell an old pal

from that love summer when he meets me at my locker,

Don't rush thin men coming home from work on the streets,

Don't get so lost in the streets, I say

Don't go in the forest alone, please

Don't talk to strangers

make me feel alive, I try explaining to a friend over coffee.


He says he's scared I can't remember anything.


I fell asleep on my mom, watching King of Queens last night.

My mom says she doesn't know me anymore.

My dad is turning 60.

My dad is turning 61.


My dad is planting Chrysanthemums

on the porch and they remind me of the beginning of a book.

The blueprints of a palace. The feeling in my chest like a dull

flame when I remember being ten and wonder why

they tell us to stop playing with fire.


      A first grade teacher told me April was national poetry month

      and a fifth grade teacher told me to show not tell

      and a high school teacher said i'm good but I need to stop writing about---


In August the only four stars we could see

lined up perfectly down the telephone wire

like white crows. We snuck into the neighborhood pool.

We hopped that fence in our underwear. Chlorinated.




I try explaining to a friend

over coffee

and he says he's scared I can't remember anything.


Dear stranger,

I was a freshman.

Dear stranger,

I was a sophomore and I think you said you were a hockey player--

thank you for the ride.

       I'm sorry about the blood.



I want pizza for dinner.



the kid who gave away her corkscrews

in August

I thought I was a queen cause I slept on the brown line

twice returning from nights that wrapped me up like city

electrocuted me like telephone wires

help me count the minutes I forgot to write down.


Dear counselor,

Where am I thinking about?

Oh, New York sounds nice. So does southern California.

Oh, where am I thinking about exactly?

That field we laid in where the weeds looked like

little white flowers and we talked about how everyone was stupid.


My ex texted me.

I texted my best friend about my ex.

My ex asked me to go see a modern dance show with him.

       I thought a song would be enough to save us


for a while, I thought I was a writer.

For a while I thought I could tell instead of show,

I thought if I kept running, I wouldn't

see the snow on roofs of fallen homes.

       Our awning collapsed.

       I've erased my first draft.

       I've scoured the room for knives and for hair ties

       pens and white lies and quarters for the bus.


I need to study for my AP calculus test.

I need to delete that text.

I need to wish him luck for his court date.

I need to wish him luck on his first date.


      Dear friend,


thank you for the coffee.

I'm sure the book you gave me is fantastic

but I can't get past the beginning,


the chrysanthemums on the porch are in full bloom.

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