Paper Bags & Napkins




Project 365



Well my tongue was in love
But my heart was left above

An Already Salted Wound

I did not care if someone found me strung around your neck like Christmas lights left hanging on the porch railing. I wanted to be too desperate to stand on my own so that I would have a weakness to blame — a crutch to show people when they asked how I could have known about your missing rib if another lover had already claimed my bones. I wanted to manage a neat unfaithfulness that nobody would discover. I called it a secret seal when you inked and pressed your smallest finger into the cleft at the base of my neck. But it was not lust that we were keeping hidden because I tried and failed to summon it within me. We stood in the spaces between strangers’ houses in the city and you whispered that love could be so much warmer than I had known, that I was not heavy when I leaned on you, and that you would be waiting in a parked car outside whichever house I pointed out in case I ever wanted to leave the man who made me feel like a burden whenever I took his arm. And even though you said all of the right words, I always returned to my shared bed in the morning, never having touched you in the way that would have broken his heart like he had done mine many times before.

When I visit the apartment you used to live in:

There is a fog in the room heavy enough to make the floor sink in the middle. I press my palms to the walls to keep from sliding towards the dip and become stuck there. I spend most of my afternoons trying to avoid the applesauce-thick stickyness of your memory, but sometimes I find myself knocking on that shut door inside my own head. And then I slip into the black hole you carved in the place your coffee table used to be. The carpet talks me back into the white button down shirts you loved to see me wear and the grip you had on my wrists — permanently twisting my arms behind my back and calling it compromise. All of the furniture pushes our bodies together even when we are not there and I gasp for air when our mouths draw close. But you cannot touch me in a haunting and I tell myself that until I can pull myself like a thread through the needle of relief.

I want to go back to a time where everything felt like it had a deeper meaning. The air supply pipes in the underground train stations were trying to tell us something.  Grass was always wet and the heaviest thing in my bag was your astronomy textbook. Fold up the world seven times and shrink it back to the simplicity of falling asleep on the couches in the school library. Your hair smelling like sunshine after spending lunch hour outside, our mouths redder on the inside — and hope, tucked away as a bookmark in the pages of whichever story seemed like a good dream.


Congratulations to June’s contributors: onlyafewheartbeatsaway, Aditi Nagrath, lovedly, imperfectlinesonperfectpaper, elsilvero, thedrugstorenotebook, rakkan, theresurrectionshuffle, expresswithsilence, pitoyasays, bethanymaepoetry, definitely-evan, myownknight, and onthehighwaytomel!

And let’s give it up for the hard work put in by the newest additions to the aLit crew: a-new-american-classic, p-x-r, soulbites, r-ybanez, paintbypixels/milkshakesandheartaches, and thephilosophersotherstone!

We have a feeling you’re going to fall head over heels for this issue.

My writing is going to be in this month’s issue of A Literation along with pieces by many other talented folks. Do check it out!

Thank you to the A Literation team for all of their hard work and for selecting my story.

The soul filling the body.

entering a room
not all at once
but like rain
through a leak in the ceiling
pitter-pattering into existence

sound slowed down
into its separate pieces
the front of the melody leading
the end around corners
and secret contours of listening

spaces suddenly
apparent, vast
seconds split into slivers
broken lines in the road or
posts in a fence
gaps large enough to occupy
or larger
like the silence between
this galaxy and the next

and a final meeting
the seal along the edge
wax spilling into openings
a gentle close
that is only arrived at
and never journeyed to


She reads somewhere that a woman monitors her appearance every few seconds and dismisses it as hyperbole. And from then on the forgotten factoid chimes like change in an otherwise empty pocket whenever she reaches to smooth her hair, adjusts the waist on her pants, or thinks much less about the conversation she is having than the body she is having it in — a thousand times a day. 

The wonder is not in the deliberate moments.

You probably do not realize that I still think about your hands. After spending years reaching for them, holding them, feeling them grow rough and then soft once more, there are still new ways for me to be amazed by your palms and the fists that they fold into. Sometimes when I hand you your mug in the mornings, my fingers overlap yours for a moment and their skin surprises me. Sometimes when you fall asleep before me, your arms roam the mattress and your knuckles brush my cheek or my shoulder, and the bones feel new again. Sometimes, in your absence, when I find a note on the kitchen table, smudged by your southpawed script, I can picture exactly where the ink would have stained your pinky and the shape your hand would have made holding the pen. And it shocks me that I can know a part of you so exactly without losing the novelty offered by unfamiliarity.

I couldn’t find a polite way of saying that I had just wanted someone to kill time with for the weekend. I turned a fork back and forth in my hand at Sunday morning breakfast as I tried to repeatedly reword the sentiment. He ate sausages and sunny side up eggs, completely unaware and probably thinking of plans for later in the week. I could hear the propositions in the way that he was chewing his food. Let’s go to the movies and have you seen the old town at night would all be wasted on me. I had wanted a flashcard vacation — long enough to let me pronounce the shape of its forty eight hours before flipping to something completely different. Still, what a pretty smile he had on, and I couldn’t tell him just then.

Why do they call it a blood orange?

I volunteered to sit in the back of the car crash that was your route to the movies. Motion (picture) sickness and nothing but a toothpaste tube in the cup-holder armrest. We listened to the same song making helicopter surveillance circles around the scene of the accident. You said that you saw some pink in the sink this morning (using the language of dentists in commercials) and had to buy something to take care of it. I thought about how blood is often anything but the cardinal colour. Blue in the textbook diagrams, purple when it clots, brown when it is an old stain on a white t-shirt. And crimson only in our dramamine dream when we are looking out through the windshield, seeing everything foretold in red.