selected for publication by Chet’la Sebree

KP-Index 4.33

The room isn’t quiet but it is
soft like too many blankets
or how the frozen sand looked
beyond our towels hours before
where I sat with a boy
I tried to love,
the sky brightish and hazy, milk
oozing through midnight’s pores,
but I pretended not to see it
because that evening, hours before,
I told myself
while staring at my untied shoes,
to break up with the boy
I tried to love
who had a body that felt nice
against mine on the cold beach,
palm warm in my lap,
my shoulder carved deep
in his cheek while he talked
about Pleiades
the same way
the astronomer talked
about Pleiades
at the planetarium
years before where I sat
under the dome of stars
with someone else
who I think I did love
but I only think that
when a room is too noiseless,
when bedsheets are starch-tough
but I only think that
I can
break up with the boy
I tried so hard to love
if the time felt right, which is to say
if the sky stayed dark and all we did
was shiver between each other
and listen to the lake waves crash
against the icy shore before finally
collecting our sandy things
and sliding into loose shoes
to trudge with our phone lights
to his car
where my words should have been
Would you mind taking me home?
but were instead
Well, that was anticlimactic.
so we go back
to his too-dark room
in his too-dark apartment,
where a cold fan oscillates
in the corner and blows
a hanging mirror with a soft
thump thump thump
against his door and I kiss him
on a bed with too many blankets
until he gets up
and searches, a silhouette, for a tissue
while I stare at the black ceiling
and think about how I should have
snapped a photo of the lights
that dripped in white streaks
across the belly of night.

Andrew Walker is a writer from Colorado living in Michigan. Their creative work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and has appeared in or is forthcoming from Black Warrior ReviewAlien MagazinePidgeonholesHAD, and elsewhere. They are an associate editor at Passages North. Find more of their work at

Guest Judge: Chet’la Sebree is an Assistant Professor of English at George Washington University. She is the author of Field Study (FSG Originals, June 2021), winner of the  James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American, and Mistress, selected by Cathy Park Hong as the winner of the 2018 New Issues Poetry Prize and nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Poetry (2020).