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by Jade Sylvan

for Maxwell Kessler

Head between my knees in black lace
green bra belt buckle eyeliner
on the A train uptown
to sleep on a boxspring tonight,
my companions off to sodomy clubs
no use to me. I just want some screaming sleep.

My lips drip acidic puke
of evian grey goose and cheeseburger
into a plastic bag leftover
from a blueberry bagel.

Across sit tittering man and woman,
red patent heels and cardigans
and straight brown bangs and
tasteful glasses and creased pants.

They are new acquaintances
subway coincidences, and on this
near empty car they have to watch
this tattooed medusa spew into a plastic bag.

Watch the makeup trail off her summer sweat
as her eyes water. Watch her try to wipe the snot.
Worse, near hellish, is her high hysteric
laughter, even as she vomits and cries,
her wild desperate mirth with the awareness of this horror.
Not what anyone wants to see before the first date.

They whisper eye-avert.
How alike they are,
they who are not this,
so different together
from this hungry purger,
painted and spangled
on this midnight banshee train.

And they, safe outside this nightmare
exchange names, numbers, a promise to text
all just below the rumble of existential moan.
It is so good to be a human, they are thinking,
and to know what you are supposed to do.

You give the guy your phone number,
cut your bangs, cross your legs
smell of fabric softener and shampoo,
thank your own personal star face that you are not
that puking snotting laughing creature
disguised so poorly as young woman.

If we're going to call it something,
let's call this my gift.
My shivering purblind with substance
and bleeding vision of bodies corroded formless,
this fragile dissection of both compass and clock.
I will do the work for you. The smoky breath
caught in these ribs is insurance
for your calm and grinning life.

Take it. It's much too precious for me to hang on to.
These types of things tend to get away from me
in bars, beds, taxis, trains, whirlpools, volcanoes, novas, and time.
Tonight I lost my last twenty-dollar bill.
Finding it will let someone believe in fate.

Your hair will keep growing
and you will marry in October.
You will have career paths and children and grow slowly fat
and your faces will wrinkle, eventually,
and for years over wine drinking you will remember
how you met, began speaking because of the thick discomfort
of that hideous vomiting girl on the subway,
so romantic, you will laugh, and kiss with tongues
even after all these years.
Such good lifetimes you are about to live.

Let this life of separate shapes and colors
and words that mean what the dictionary says
be my happy gift to you,
all you pretty people with your clean mouths.

I am glad to do it. I know it will be safe with you.
Your chests make better homes.
I never could teach it how to hold me.

About the author:
Jade Sylvan is a novelist and poet who can most easily be found at She has been published in Word Riot, The Sun, and Zygote in my Coffee, and is the current poetry editor for CRIT Journal ( She has performed as the featured poet in many venues in New England, and is a regular performer at Boston's famous Cantab Lounge.

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