I never had a chance

to be frivolous. My mother’s

greatest fear was that we would die

from some small neglect: a seatbelt

not worn, a swollen can of beans

unnoticed and eaten, the want

of a stair nail. My father’s

was that the ripped blue jeans, stale

crackers, scrap paper we failed

to save would be exactly what we

needed to survive. I dream my teeth

are falling out. And sometimes,

they do, shell fragments  

still wet in my palm. Death takes

a thousand forms, and so does

poverty: some arms are viper

nests, some embraces,

scissors through purse straps.

I have never regretted

the knots I didn’t tie

around my wrists, but

these kisses

burn in my pocket; I fear everyone

on the street can see

my tiny unspent fire.


Bethany F. Brengan is a freelance writer and editor who splits her time between the Olympic Peninsula and the internet. Her poetry has appeared in Revolute, Channel, The Gordon Square Review, and CV2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing. She can be found at medium.com/@bethanybrengan