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Brooke White Mar 27
His face was refreshing like Violet Gum, but
the pockets of my throat would bet him as indigestible.

I was thirteen when I discovered
the surgeon general’s warning

tattooed in the fat of Victor’s chest. Smoke
hanging like eaves from the roof of his mouth.

Not to be confused with the smoke of his father’s violent
Guns left unattended for play, and protection in his drug habits.

Nixon lied when he said that
defeat doesn't finish a man.

His curiosity was only deposited further
by his absent mother’s abysmal spills.

I thought he was clean the summer we met;
He had sang of sobriety particularly well.

But while the cicadas left their shells and warned me
to return home, I was begging him to break my sheltering.

Because I loved that night. I loved him,
I loved him that night.
For my mother, 1972
Brooke White Mar 6
If you were flavor of the week,
you’d be the taste of rusted nails in a sea of teeth
from biting at the inside of my cheek.
I mourn the screams buried underneath my tongue.

You’d be the taste of rusted nails in a sea of teeth,
because you speak a language of silence.
I mourn the screams buried underneath my tongue,
they are so delicate.

Because you speak a language of silence,
you pull apart the wings of my droning youth.
They are so delicate
with their hands around my throat.
Brooke White Feb 20
i.
The pale man with a fat collar sharpened his teeth to bite
into the pulp of a psalm. I envied him
closer to God and nearly having eaten the microphone.

ii.
        Suddenly, the bobbing aisles and shuffling pews cease
        to biblical current.
        Behind him is a fountainhead of distraction.
        The mosaics are rich in blood orange
        and specs of sunlight
        through stained glass electrify
        young churchgoers into a disco scene.

iii.
A Xavier boy is likely to yank the ponytail of the girl in front of him again. His khakis will become an eyesore in an overpopulated neighborhood of plaid skirts. I will find myself searching the room for disruption. And during that time, God will be searching for me.
Brooke White Feb 11
chew on the filters
of their cigarettes like marrow in a bone.

their mouths hang open as they laugh,
staining the floral runner with mom's casserole

my sister usually clears the glass tumblers
from the table, while these men slough
old advertisement pitches

              Remember me, Barbara?
I can't say I do. But I do recall their wives,
silenced from the dull ache of their insults

And when these men finally leave
to seek malaise in bar bathrooms,

dad's rugged footsteps tap-dance
around the lyrics of Sinatra's
"I've Got You Under My Skin."
Brooke White Jan 27
the oak frames and polyester tarp peel
like the hawkers’ chapped lips
a collection of relics
having abandoned their craftsmanship

a foreign couple flashes their dialect
and suddenly everyone listens
there are no steel drums
or stewed oxtail, as they had been told

only a routine array of Indonesian wood.

the light fixtures are wrapped in a cheesecloth
but the aisles incandescent
with fabrics and beads
Brooke White Jan 21
my knuckles are a sandpaper
stained with cherry wine
a muddied grape metacarpal
as talented as the devil,
yet naive like a child
Brooke White Jan 12
Right off of the 7 train,
Irish Catholic schoolgirls spilling
out of Jahn's like marbles
Their plaid skirts against exposed brick
bellies full of kitchen sink

The produce stand next door
eggs .60 a dozen, milk one dollar
Now converted into a bodega
or maybe even a small
Muslim prayer room

I bought my first album
at a record store on 82nd
The brown paper bags, thin as bible pages
It spun on the Victrola in my
parents' Tudor

The yellowing wallpaper smelled of
my mom's Virginia Slims
And sounded of my dad's Vermouth
His own liver fried
with onions, just as he liked it
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