Jessica Guzman

Two Poems


You’re the first
line of a “Dear John” letter, ink
smeared by magnolia sweat and paper
cuts. I want to take you
through a shredder of lipstick and beer
composed at twilight, watch
the little pieces twinkle towards the sky
caressing space and burning

miles away from me, again
and again. I would push you
until you’re just stardust,
and I’m a cigarette floating
in the rain.

Upon Reading Langston Hughes

I am twenty-two years old, the daughter
of immigrants, dark curls, a soft drawl, wearing pearls.
I’m a student from the poor side of uptown
with plastic flowers in my hair. My heart
beats like a pencil tapping on a notebook.
The city streets I follow home smell
like salt and gasoline combusting behind
me—from the pavement, to the sidewalk, the stairs,
and I’m in my apartment sipping Pabst
Blue Ribbons, tying ink-bows. Is it true?

I like to sound out prose in French, swirling
the words like Listerine across my teeth;
I want to never curse aloud
in anything but poetry, saving
syllables in the creases of my fingers.

Do you trust me enough
to believe I saved them for you? And now
we can share soup and describe our days,
and when I’m menstruating we’ll toast
to surviving another month.

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