Skip to main content

Hillary Leftwich


I’m calling you out.
You’re a dream
but never a reality.
You’re everywhere
on the streets and in my sheets.

I work all day and catch
the Colfax bus home at night.
You’re everywhere on the bus;
your smells, your faces, your rage.

There is a woman
twitching in her seat
from withdrawals.
I’m too scared
to sit next to her.

I see the face
of the man who tried
to kill me every day
in my son’s face.

How can I love this boy
with all my heart when
he looks like the one person
I hate the most?

I can’t wake up.
I can’t move.
The psychiatrist tells me
it’s sleep paralysis but
I think it’s you.

I can solve Algebra equations
in my dreams
but I can’t figure out
how to live
off $2300 bucks a month
with three jobs
and a son to raise.

Soon he will lose
his Medicaid because
of a man who cares more
about the size of his hands
than the size of his heart.

There’s no equation that solves
how I can save my son
from the seizures
that are going to kill him.

My eyes aren’t brown
they’re hazel
but who gives a fuck
when no one looks you
in the eye anymore?

Men tell me it’s so cute
when I try to write poetry
and read in front of people.

This is how the world is, honey.

Put your big girl panties on.

You’re prettier when you smile.

Swallow next time, will ya?

I can’t get the smell
of bleach
out of my nostrils
that I use to scrub
the black mold
off my son’s bedroom walls.

It’s killing us.

My credit sucks
and I can’t afford to move.
You have me in a choke hold.

What happened to the bed
I slept in when I was five?
What happened to my baby blanket
that protected me
from the hands
of strange men and women
trying to touch me?

My dad threw it away
like you’re throwing us away.

I can’t scrub everything clean.

The bleach makes it look
like the mold is gone
and the walls are clean
when they’re really not.

Some of us can see it
but too many of us can’t.

It was never gone.

It’s still here,
Growing.
Killing us
with every single breath that we take.

Hillary Leftwich is co-host for At the Inkwell, a NYC based reading series and organizes/hosts other reading events around Denver. Her writing can be found in print and online. 

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg 
We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer,
either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to
let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet 
in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that.
Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline, concis, Gargoyle, The Westchester Revie…

June Poem Reviews

I've had fiction and non-fiction reviews published in quite a few journals and have been a member of the National Book Critics Circle, when I could afford it. Therefore, I feel quasi-professional in those arenas. I don't necessarily feel that way about my poetry reviews. I have opinions, though, and in the interest of keeping my poetry-mind occupied during an otherwise stressful time in my life, I'd like to make you, the poetry world, an offer. If you mail me your chapbook or book--at least 24 pages but no more than 100 pages, self-published or traditional--I will post a review of between 150 and 300 words about it, as professionally as I can, in the following months. Promise. Mail me your book, get a review. Easy. If I get a huge response, I'll declare a cap and communicate it here. I would prefer to work from print copies. I hate reading poetry in PDF or MOBI--my preferred methods for prose--because the lines never break correctly and I find myself critiquing lineati…

Gypsy Queen by NIcole Hennessy, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Nicole Hennessy
Gypsy Queen
Crisis Chronicles Press
2019
60 pages
$12
Nicole Hennessy's Gypsy Queen, #109 from Crisis Chronicles Press, is a representative small press text in many ways. Filled with free-verse poems that tend toward the long and discursive, the book is arranged in such a way that the poems' performative aspects are in full effect, with strong voice and lots of sound-play. In "Vultures," a poem in five short sections, the speaker says to the potential partner "Tell me everything about me./Leave no room for me to tell you." which is a nice effect, as potential partners in the beginning usually say "tell me everything about you," so it's an intriguing beginning. We know this speaker is all ego from the get-go, doubling down on that initial statement by confessing just a few lines farther down:

I knew we'd walk to that cemetery together
I wanted to tell you something about myself
through those streets alone, along which I'…