Us and

          i

 

them.

 

They live in alleyways, under the shadows of worms, picking wilted hamburger wrappers off each other’s carcasses that they lick like sloppy peppermints. Their cheeks flap in the raucous winds of passersby, those vacant mouths exposed: the nerve, dangling from neglected gumlines, raw, to rattle dimes in hepatitic Styrofoam at all the shiny, brand new stop lights. Houses fashioned from puddles of piss, their children smell like utter

 

death. They terrify us.

 

Wheezing the songs of their grandparents, they drift up and down our aisles, mirrors jammed in our faces, lacking regard for our boots, the very fabric of which was designed to squish those diseased sandbox-pill-bugs, cackling. (Are we the jaundiced ones, their mirrors force us to wonder?) Fat yellow street lights; axe to wood to splintered palms, we come tumbling down. Don’t they fear

 

          ii

 

us?

 

We live with porcelain elephants and tiger lilies, sterile air lulling our nostrils as we give birth in swimming pools of doctors and anesthesia, swaddled in blankets of our own skin tones. We nod politely, as our mothers did before us. Stars coo at us. Our swollen paychecks stick, gleaming with the blood of whittling our thumbprints down, down to steel

 

bone. We are infinite.

 

The hot-dog, chain-link genocides are written in our own backyards, but our red polka-dot dresses and silk gray suits don’t see them—we see less than we think we do. Cradling in warm wombs, wanting for nothing, the chants of those corpses freeze still our cerebrospinal jell-o, steadily growing louder like the undead waking, throttling against our stained glass ribcages, until we just can’t take it anymore & crack!

 

          iii

 

I

 

am stuck, battery acid pooled in my chest. But isn’t this what I’ve been training for? There’s an equal chance I’ll wake with air in my lungs, and that it will it corrode me entirely. Porcelain is nice, but my knee smashed through it when I slipped in the shower. Us & them, we all have to comfort crying children—but over unwanted meatloaf or trash-can

 

sirloins? This isn’t politics.

 

They sing songs because we don’t understand; we shoot rifles because we don’t want to. One…two…buckle my Italian leather thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers. Monocle fitted, I shuffle the sidewalk, and when I recoil from their acrid stench just four blocks down, I trip on my shoelaces. With fresh scraped knees, I glance up. The birds up on power lines squawk with tight throats and drop bombs, not caring who

 

they’ve dumped their waste on.

What are you looking for?