the human carcinogen

Alexa Becker, Poetry Editor

you were a firework in my chest
annihilating
the chambers of my heart
with your thunderous booms
echoing throughout my bones
melting my muscles
in an awesome explosion of
life

you were the 7 of hearts
dealt to me in a game of poker
where I bet my skin
because I saw no need for it anymore
I won
you gave me a straight flush
my skin
has not fit the same since
like a coat that shrinks
in the wash
but we were
warm

you reminded me of the aftercare teachers
who sat with me
after my friend ditched
to go play on the
red slide
with the fifth graders
how we all aspired to
age
so we could sit
atop that slide

you were a kid
on a brochure for medication
you didn’t take
you didn’t need it
your body
your chemicals
they
were enough

as time
passes
I realize you are a
dud
that I lit but
never went off
stuck somewhere between my left and right ventricles
if I ever have a heart attack
I’ll know it’s just you
leaving
finally

you’re not the 7 of hearts
you’re the King of Clubs,
you’d fit with a royal flush
but I’ve never been
lucky enough
to hold that

you remind me now of the
senseless etchings
in that red slide
now faded and turned pink
by the unforgiving
sun

you are decomposed
and all my memories of you are
liquefied and darkened
much like
your body

you are the medication I went off of
for somebody’s
greater good

you’d run through my mind
if your legs were still solid

but don’t worry
even though I write as if
I lost you yesterday
time
has definitely made you seem less like an
annual tragedy
more like a non
-fatal
but continual
carcinogen

but now instead of the last
candle
burning bright
on the kitchen table
during a power outage
you are the burn on my thumb
from pinching the flame
out