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KRB Feb 2015
I am just like you
though you can’t see
my gushing head wound
like the elderly man
to my right.
He slumps in his wheelchair
as his wife holds a bag of ice
to his forehead.

To the little boy staring
between visits to the green
plastic sick bag,
scared of my trembling body:
I am sick too
though I have no fever like you.
He’s a deer in the headlights
until his mother scolds
him for being rude.

To the receptionist who swears
it will only be a minute
as people scream for dear life:
I feel your pain.
I know what it is like to not be able
to help and feel helpless.
I’ve waited six hours thus far
for someone to tell me something
I already know.

To my impatient father
and my mother
who just doesn’t understand
why exactly we’re here:
this isn’t an act,
it’s a cry for help.

But unlike the elderly man,
I will leave with no gauze
or cast
or colorful Band Aid.
I will not leave with orders
for bedrest. I will leave
with my head held low,
just as exhausted
as I was before.
KRB Feb 2015
Looking at pictures of your ex
on Facebook at three o’clock
in the morning never helped anyone
my mother says with her bittersweet
chocolate voice flowing
through the phone.

But she can’t remember
the time when he took me to the fair
and won me a sickly carnival fish
swimming in circles, banging
its head on the glass
of a too-small fishbowl
filled with icy blue water.
We named him Bear
so he would grow
big and strong
fed him all the love
we could muster up.

The best we could give
was an old plastic cup
much too small for love
to grow the way it needs to.
I looked into the fish’s blank eyes
and saw a piece of me
I had not seen before
and in the morning
there he was belly-up,
eyes blank as before.

He said sometimes
that's just what happens
when you love someone
too much.
He was right.
KRB Nov 2014
the occurrences I recall in the next twenty-nine lines
of this very poem could be true.
But then again, they could
also be false.
                                                    ---   ­          
I was enjoying myself
at a friends wedding
sipping shiraz diligently dancing
until a man with long
pale hair and a thin tie
with crooked teeth
Pulls a knife.
I run. Far.
Until he caught up to me
in the freezer section of supermarket.
I freeze, he approaches and
I hit him in the head with a hubcap.
M­y mother mourns over a half-eaten ham
Easter afternoon.
Why do we even ******* try anymore?
I sit silent as my father
sets off a verbal alarm about the mashed potatoes.
His feet take root in the yard
and hold on stubbornly
like the dying fir.
The sweltering simmer of
a shower’s steamy embrace seduces me.
I dry off in the confines of
the white sterile tile room
A thousand people bellow around
my naked body,
walls quiver with the pressure
of air,
still as it ever was.
KRB Apr 2014
I must look like a train-wreck to everyone at this party. Emaciated-chic melting into the couch with shaky hands and sweaty palms has never looked good on anyone. I can’t tell if the bass pounding from the stereo has seeped through my skin or if my heart has turned into a battering ram, using all of its power to break through my sternum. You think I would have learned after all these years-- benzos and ***** are never a good combination. But I still have at least fifty bucks to make at this party off of over-privileged, toxin-craving youth. Besides, it’s a bearable feeling, and I can just sleep it off on the couch here tonight.
       I survey the room, attempting to remember where the stairs to the basement were located. After forcing my drooping eyelids to stay open, I watch a parade of lax bros make their way up the stairs and into the kitchen. They are a mess of scrawny limbs floating in pinnies and their air-filled heads are capped off with snapbacks. Their smugness is laughable and mostly, if not entirely, induced by massive amounts of *******. Please. The only reason people show up to this dump is because of the free ***** and the always-entertaining fight that is guaranteed to happen by the end of the party. Even then, the crowd is mostly freshmen, and they just don’t know any better.
       A booming yooooo crashes down the staircase and stumbles towards me. I refrain from rolling my eyes.
       “Hey, you!” I have no idea who this is.
       “Whatchyew got tonight?” asks the greasy manchild with a few scraggly hairs bursting out of his chin.
       “Depends on what you’re looking for,” I respond, wishing I had worn something other than an oversized sweater and leggings. You shouldn’t hide everything in your cleavage.
       “How much you want for the zannies?”
       Hoping to never see this scumbag again, I figure it wouldn’t hurt to scare him off by jumping the price to seven bucks a bar. But before I can even grab the plastic bag out of my bra, I’m momentarily blinded by piercing red and blue LEDs out the window.
       “Aw, shiiiit,” he says as he races toward the back door.
       I struggle out of the crevice in the couch and calmly follow the manchild, pushing my way through the crowd by the door. My car is waiting patiently for me in the cul de sac, and once I get past the herd of screaming freshmen, I’ll be in the clear. Anyone will move if you start throwing elbows directly into their ribs. It’s a nice party trick to use when the cops show up.
       I’m able to make it onto the back porch, but I can’t seem to find the strength that is located in my legs. My strong limbs have been replaced by jellyfish tentacles. I grab onto the railing of the steps, but I learn quickly that it’s not going to help. I trip over my feet, the stairs, the air, everything, until I am able to lean heavily on the driver’s side of my car.
       The booming yooooo reappears.
       ******* it. I can’t deal with this kid right now.
       “I just gotta text that the cops are on their way back here. Better get out.”
       ****. I face the car and begin to fumble with my keys. While I attempt to find the one that will open this machine, I listen to the wail of sirens a few streets down. I finally retrieve it, but I realize by the time I start the car and head towards home, the cops will be here, and I can’t ruin my spotless record. The knee-high hedges lining the circle would never be able to completely cover me, and every other house on this street looks unfamiliar. I press a small, blue button and hear a pop in the back. Normally at this time, my common sense would **** in and tell me that the trunk of a car isn’t exactly a good place to hide, but I’m starting to feel the cold through the numbness. And the last thing I want to deal with is explaining to my parents how their angel has taken herself off of her meds to make some extra cash.  Better get comfortable, I guess.
       I lumber into the trunk, thankful that there are at least some blankets left over from the last time I went camping with my family. Breathing heavily, I pull the lid behind me. From here, several familiar voices grow frantic and demanding: Dump that **** now... Get rid of it... I don’t care how much you spent, I’m not getting caught with it... I roll gently onto my side, careful not to shake the car, only to rediscover the plastic bag filled with Xanax.
       I freeze when I hear cars pull up nearby. The crash of heavy metal doors boom through the hectic sounds of the people trying their hardest to get out of the way. I listen to the rough growl of a sturdy boot as it kicks aside pieces of broken glass and plastic cups.
       “You think that after the fourth time we’ve busted this house, they would get the hint,” says a stern officer. I imagine him as they type with a faded buzz cut, bulging muscles, and aviator sunglasses even though it’s well past midnight.
       “Well, kids will be kids,” says a more seasoned member of the law. He sounds like my grandfather and has probably seen more terrifying images than an underage girl in skimpy clothing puking in a nearby flowerbed. It seems as though the stern officer is herding the party-goers towards the back of the patrol car.
       “That’s no excuse,” says Stern Cop.
       “So you’re telling me that you never went to a party or had a beer before you turned 21?”
       “Well, that’s different. I was in control.”
       Hearing your rights sounds much less dramatic in real life than it does on TV. For these underage drinkers, it’s a sped-up process that is muffled by their own sobs. The metallic clink of handcuffs echoes through the air and immediately hushes everyone. Soft Cop chuckles and gently closes the door, attempting not to startle the shaken-up criminals.
       I am finally able to exhale as a car drives away, but I don’t feel as if I’ve gotten away with anything. I shift onto my back and look up at the roof of the trunk, illuminated by the blue-green light of my cell phone. Glancing down at the screen, I see the time: 1:47 a.m. I’m going to have to venture out into the world eventually.
       As I gather my strength and roll towards the trunk release, I feel my keys in my pocket along with a tiny click. Immediately, my car begins to scream. I scramble for my keys, hoping that no one is here to witness the embarrassing mess I’ve made of myself. Once I finally get the car to calm down, I hear an intoxicating mix of chuckles and mild profanities strung together. It’s Soft Cop. He knows.
       “Is everything alright in there?” asks Soft Cop as he knocks on the trunk.
       What am I supposed to say? Yeah, everything’s fine. Just chillin’ out here. No worries.
       “Uh... yes, sir. Just give me a moment.”
       I unlock the trunk and start push it upwards, but Soft Cop has managed to get to it first. He is a tall, thick man with a glorious salt-and-pepper colored mustache. His soft eyes look tired like a basset hound’s. I see his name-tag–– G. Lewis. He looks like a Gary.
       “Didjya get a little stuck?” he asks.
       “Yeah.” I smile and try not to let my nervous laugh creep through.
       Gary looks around the cul de sac and back into the trunk, reaching his chubby fingers towards me. As he helps me out, I notice that he’s a lot stronger than he looks.
       “Sorry for breaking up the party tonight. Have fun?” he asks, tilting his head towards me, eyes curious and comforting.
       “For a little. I didn’t get to stay very long.”
       He nods his head towards my car. “If you don’t mind me asking,” he chuckles, “how’d you wind up in there?”
“I guess I just got scared. I didn’t want to get in trouble for being here.”
       Gary finds this amusing and swears that by now, every other cop has left the area. He explains that he’s been left to make sure nothing starts back up. He shoves his hands in his pockets and kicks around an empty Miller Lite can.
       “Listen, I can tell you’ve been drinking.” His voice has changed. I know this tone. This is the tone of Your Mother and I both love you very much, and we’re not mad. We’re just disappointed. He looks me straight in the eyes, concern written all over his face. “Correct?”
       There’s no point lying to him, but who wants to be the one throw themselves under the bus? I’m trying to put the words together, but all I can manage is incoherent babbling.
       “Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble,” he insists. “I just don’t want you driving away in this state. You seemed to have a hard time finding the steering wheel.” A smirk emerges on his face, eventually growing in size to a radiating smile. He’s proud of that one.
       “Yeah, I guess I could take a nap in the backseat.”
       “How about I just drop you off at your house. You can pick up your car in the morning. Sound like a plan?”
       “Yes, sir.”
       We look at each other for a second. No thank you is needed. No more words are necessary. I relax my shoulders and look up at the clear sky. I feel the wind blow, and I don’t seem to mind the biting December wind.
       “Didn’t bring a coat?” asks Gary.
       “Didn’t match my outfit.”
       “You sound just like my granddaughter.” He laughs. “You even have the same blonde hair and big green eyes. It’s uncanny.”
       He then stops and looks down on the ground, eyes growing wide and serious. I know what he’s looking at. I was hoping he wouldn’t see my stash that is now laying on the street: eight white pills in a plastic sandwich bag, sweaty from making a quick escape from under my sweater.
       Gary sighs and lets his lips purse, still looking at the bag. The salt-and-pepper mustache takes over his mouth. He gathers his hands on his hips, shoulders hunching forward. He stays like this as I avoid the opportunity to make eye contact. After drawing some air into his lungs, he finally has the courage to look up with sullen and wet eyes.
       “Well,” he says as he regains his composure. He kicks the bag into a nearby storm grate. “Let’s get you home.”
written for a fiction course i'm taking currently
KRB Apr 2014
i hear you in your room
Wild Thing,
howling at the moon
swinging from your blanket vines.
it’s you who’s gnashing and gnarling,
growling and moaning.

give up your crown
Wild Thing,
set the yellow paper on the ground
sail across the sea in
your cardboard-box boat
and float back to where you belong.

i’ve waited for years
and weeks and days
Wild Thing,
for you to hear me,
watching the steam and love waft off
your dinner every night.

listen to my roar,
Wild Thing:
don’t let the wild rumpus
reach too far into who you are.
KRB Apr 2014
For ****'s sake, Carol. My heart just stopped for a little. I’m not dead yet.
“Oh, Frank...”
*Don’t ‘Oh, Frank’ me. I’m perfectly fine, see? Just help me get my boots on.

Being in the hospital is a lot like being in prison, but with more fluorescent lights and the constant smell of death and tongue depressors. I want to go home, but I can’t seem to move my legs. Or my arms. Or anything. I want to scream at the ******* who keeps messing with my IV, but I can’t find my words. I think she’s starting to get the hint thanks to the speedy and steady beeping of my heart monitor and my amazingly high blood pressure. I have to go. Now.
They say I may never make it out of here. To hell with them. There’s nothing I want more than to sit in my recliner, open a cold one or five and watch the Big Blue beat Brady one last time. Heh, the look on his face when we ruined their perfect season. Still one of the greatest sights in my lifetime.
“Hello, Mrs. Rosecrans.”
Oh, Jesus Christ. Not this airhead again. Don’t you talk to my wife.
“Dr. Wasser, he looked at me today. He’s there. I see it. Are you sure?”
“Based on the CAT scans we’ve taken, the possibility of him waking up is very, very slim.”
“But he looked at me...”
“It was just a reflex. Look, if I pinch his skin, I’m not getting a reaction.”
What is the matter with you? Going around pinching people who can’t yell back... I wish I could give this guy a piece of my mind right about now.
“Okay. So, what can we do?”
Her voice is shaking. I want to tell her that there’s nothing to worry about.
“At this point, we would need you to start coming to a decision.”
The room goes silent, and I can hear my barely beating heart sink.
I don’t want to die here.
Flash fiction based on the song "I Don't Wanna Die (In the Hospital) by Conor Oberst
KRB Apr 2014
so this
back   and
     forth so        effortlessly
words said so               clearly, taken
back           so quickly.
back to     pretending
it's        not         hard
to read      between the lines
if           you       just           try
                          hard enough.
back to what I said before--
is-- empty           spaces,  
this is for you, you *******.
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