Rounding Down


Behind me on the bus
girl laments
He texted me
I love you
I’m so over it

Teenage scent :
cigarettes good
shampoo artificial fruit
wends around bus funk

She sighs on the back
of my neck : staccato
clicks : chewing gum
between molars

Friend laughs quick
Why you dating young

He’s a baby

First girl I’m rounding up
to twenty now


Then I dreamt
of twenty

As he entered me he
prayed or maybe
said Goddess

I thought I could
be that

Leaves in my hair

Twigs stuck
in my lace


I will
dream myself
into a do-over

Puella eterna

Round way down

without night terrors

The boy
wrestled a knife
from me

I’d just
OD’d on Depakote

A piece of bark
wedged in my mouth

this time I fucked up
just as I decided
I want to live


Two years later
locked ward
smoking room
please keep
us safe on the outside

Each had her burns
or mysterious
scar matrix

You wanted to look but
not to be looked at


I round
to zero : O
: embryo

I would have named her Selene
who loved Endymion
so much
she gave him
youth with
interminable sleep

Jill Khoury earned her Masters of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Hayden’s Ferry, RHINO, Off the Coast, and Stone Highway Review. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net award. Her chapbook Borrowed Bodies was released from Pudding House Press. She is a contributing staff member for Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. You can find her at