Three Poems by Kyle Hemmings

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Why Alice Shot Her Handicapped Lover

her phone kept chirping in her pocket

she kept seeing fingerprint smudges
on her dreams, always with the same hand

at night, she could no longer mute
the sad songs of crickets

she believed that her spontaneous nosebleeds
were prophesies

in photos, taken with an old Hogan camera,
he was either too blurry
or too far away

he kept clinging until
she was nothing
but deep inner space

it would be her way
of leaving him
yet
taking that phantom part of him
with her

Alice’s Therapist Compares Depression to a Washed Up Canary

It’s a slow bullet boring through layers of years. It will convince you that tennis is impossible. A snotty Madison Avenue socialite who tells you that you’re a baby elephant in a ridiculously tight tutu. On some days, you’re bulging at the seams or feeling as empty as you did that one summer when Brad Pitt turned you down. Or was it Prince? Or the day the teacher made you write “I must pay attention,” fifty times on the blackboard before you overdosed on the chalk. The horizon keeps shifting. You’re off balance in high heels. Alone before a mirror, you experience a watered down version of stage fright, in tight spaces a cramp of claustrophobia. “Save the fish” is your girlfriend’s doomed moniker, the one with frizzy rust-colored hair and sneakers to match. She’s a chain smoker from her hippie days and claims her mother laid waste to her will to string pearls and make babies. To blame is to be human and to be unmanageable. You start calling friends at all hours but they’re not listening to the subtext in your voice. So you stop calling them. Snooty callous shits. Instead, call yourself an orphan. Call yourself a wound. Call yourself a blind eggshell. Swallow your tongue.

Alice’s Older Lover Is Uptight about Social Media

If you strip me bare without leaving tiny red nicks on the skin, if you pretend that we can jump-rope over sex as if the word “double-dutch” is forever tattooed to our rumps, if you juggle my minor chords and still make me indecent and flighty in A sharp, if you thread the milk-skin of the moon to our awkward alien silences, aware that I have allergies to both lactose and trolls in the kitchen cupboard, then, perhaps my dear Alice, we can do it again.
In the backseat of a taxi
our words bounce off glass
and break

Kyle Hemmings has work featured in Lunch Ticket, Matchbook, Bones, Burning Word, Sonic Boom, and elsewhere. He loves street photography and obscure garage bands of the 60s. Kyle cannot sing in the shower.

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