west tennessee, july 2016

that summer I say a blessing
over every dead thing I eat
or cry over or both. I grind my teeth
until they can no longer stand to touch
each other and I can’t bite into anything
anymore anyway. one day
I wake wearing the sweat-soaked
bedsheets like a rancid seatbelt. outside,
people are singing happy birthday
the entire day long. I paint
the word agency onto both of
my big toes to prove a point. I pray
text my mother and suppose
that it is painful to become
anything. later that month I turn
a corner and run into a breeze
strong enough to shock
me back into my own body. I guess
there isn’t really anything besides
uncertainty. I guess if I’d stayed there
long enough I could have become
the asphalt itself. what do you
think would’ve happened if I’d
just sat in the driver’s seat and let
the cloud of fruit flies swallow me
whole. what is it that makes a colony
a colony. how long
do you think it takes
for them to shrug their wings
and figure that a body
is as close as it needs to be to
an apple core in a cupholder
left to its own rot.


Madison Johnson is a poet, essayist, and college student from Georgia. Madison is a Pink Door Fellow and a Youth Speaks Future Corps Fellow and their work has been published in The Shade Poetry Journal and Harvard Renegade. Madison is a Pisces and more than likely wants to talk to you about your feelings.