We sit on the stoop for hours.
A few passersby, one wearing bright red kicks,
Hey man help me out. You wave a royal dismissal.
Red-kicks nods, fades into the sidewalk.

Craving closeness in any form,
I squeeze closer, my shoulder to your shoulder.
You give off unbearable heat, jiggling
something heavy in your pocket.

Your knee nervously pumps against the stone stoop
Your hands deep in your pockets
shoulders hunched against the cold
but it’s not that cold.

I don’t remember the scar above your eye.
Are you eating OK, son?
Enough, you say, then sniff
looking down between folded hands.
Tongue escorts toothpick slowly
one side of your mouth to the other.

Are you using?
The toothpick points.
That pathetic guy over there, buys from me.
I don’t use.
Toothpick flicks back and forth.
He means that I’m pathetic.

Is that why you have a gun?
I jut my chin towards his pocket.
It feels like the weight of someone’s balls in my hand.
It smells like stolen pussy, like death,
he says.

Watch your mouth.
You give me a little boy grin.
Like when you wanted something, anything
your smile was hot chocolate,
tomato soup with crackers, crisp lemonade.

Watch your mouth, I say again.
What do you do with that gun?
Do you practice in the mirror?

That’s me saying he’s pathetic.

I kick at ants forming a dismal parade on the stoop.
I walk away, just like yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In my head I am hating you.
In my head I love you
more than I have ever loved anyone.

Selected byJordan Trethewey
Image credit:Patty Brito

Susan is new to poetry. Poetry is both a means for sense of the world and a way to harken back to fond memories of writing extensively in school. She and her partner, Morgan Driscoll, are in the process of publishing a collection of poems about writing poetry.  It is  irreverently titled Up Your Ars Poetica. Due out in Fall 2023.