Joshua R. Helms


Boy unzips his skin
& tells me to turn
back around,

to look at his
pretty red flesh,
press my fingers

& watch it give.
He asks me what
my blood type is.

He asks if I’m attached
to my body. I’m not
sure. I say I don’t think

we should be here,
he says please
give me your

hands & holds his
out. I say these
aren’t my hands


hard to tell whose mouth is

on whose body Boy’s tattooed hip

obscured by shadow my beard

absent there is no way to tell us

apart there is no way to know

whose hand is at the camera


Boy says I want to give you something
circular & he pulls a broken compass

from his backpocket. He sets the silver
in my hand & says let’s live in a new town

without bridges or guns, anything that reminds
him of all the ways I’ve tried to kill him.

He says you can wear those boots you like,
our backyard’s wooded & we’ll take turns

burying cold rocks & wash each other’s hair
to pry the dirt from under our fingernails.

He’ll buy fresh fruit & after sex he’ll peel
an orange, shove the flesh into his mouth

& sitting close, my teeth sore from grinding
when we’re sleeping, the acid scalds my eyes.

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