Stop Twelve

For a school assignment, I crafted a poem emulating James Tate’s style. Tate is one of my favorite poets, and if interested, I highly recommend his collections Return to the City of White Donkeys and Dome of the Hidden Pavilion. 


Stop Twelve


I watched myself die today, and I thought it would be more

shocking, unnerving, something, but it was surprisingly

dull like a bland desert. I bit into a cake of dirt like any other day

another mundane moment, unextraordinary, except that I died. I’m dead

and nothing has changed aside from my patterns

of breathing and circulation. I can’t feel

the air transferring through my lungs or

the pumping of my blood, but then again

I never really could. Unless I paid particular attention to myself,

but that was a strain I rarely strived for outside of

peril and fear. “Weren’t you afraid?” the dead man

next to me said. His name was Kurt. I considered,

shook my head, “Not really,” I said, and then added, “Well, maybe a little.”

For how can you not feel a little afraid at your own death?

You come face-to-face with chaotic unknowing, where faith

is said to help you move through the motion, but

what do they know? “What’s your stop?” Kurt said.

For a dead man he was quite spry. “They told me twelve,”

I said, and Kurt grinned. “That’s a good one,” he said.

“Oh? How can you tell?” I said. “I can’t,” he said.

I didn’t talk to Kurt again.


© AvenKain



She enters the room,

tilted, a crippled frown

he stands at the center,

potatoes crisping on the stove.

She lifts up her shirt,

breasts exposed,

“I did need this,” he says,

and nods with a smile

returning her own.

After a touch, they flip the tots.


© AvenKain

Empty Stage

I desperately need to go to sleep, but the thoughts are gripping apart my reddened eyes. They ache for moisture, but I am dry. I am unyielding, like you are graceful.



To watch you dance, I felt compelled to float alongside you to the rhythm, our bodies conversing in an almost compulsive manner. To watch you dance, determined and strong, lithe and luminous, my own sweat rivaled your own. I dripped.

Everyone knew it, I was sweeter on you than sugar on candy. I regret my stubborn inability to unwrap, to tell you words. They are just words, but they are more than words. To love is a curse on the tongue, it is a plague to the stomach rendering me motionless—a stark contrast, to you.

I watched you sway to such words, your slippers so soft on the polished floor I could barely hear them. If I had whispered what I had feared to express would you have stopped, would you have spun on toe-top and heard?

Would you—it means nothing anymore. The assault of questions is a fiddler on my nerves propelling me into ever wakefulness, shakily I am overflowing full, and the bombardment of thoughts are a drummer on my bones; relentlessly, he beats upon my ribs knowing that hearing the hollow echo is better than the silence of being alone.


If I am ever to sleep, I must slit my sewn lips and speak to you the words I’ve held closest.


To finally sleep, I will speak those words to you tomorrow. Aloud. Articulated, perfectly vindicated. While kneeling in the soaked grass of dawn, I will speak them to the stone you have become. And I will dream of you, forever will I dream of you, dancing in your beautiful satin shoes.


© AvenKain


“You’re cute.”

She crinkles her nose.

“You cannot dispute it. I’ve checked the math,” he tells her.

She purses her lips against his and expels air.

“But apparently you can lip fart on my lips.”

They laugh before he meanders downstairs to take out his eyes.


© AvenKain

I wish

I wish I were stronger, braver, more confident. I wish I didn’t care. I wish I could look into the mirror, the storefront window, the television when it wasn’t on and see someone beautiful. I wish alcohol didn’t taste so bitter. I wish the thought of you watching porn didn’t irk me so, didn’t make me want to scream and then weep. I wish I could forgive. I wish I could speak out. I wish the scale would reflect all of the times I chose nourishment, and not only the times when I fed myself lies. I wish actions spoke louder than words. I wish I could stop picking at this same scab instead of savoring the way I bleed. I keep picking, scraping, searching, wishing for fucked up realities to be real. I wish I would stop wishing, and for everything outside of this moment—it isn’t real.


© AvenKain



Sprawled on the unmade bed, one pant leg chokes her thigh. From the center of the room, an old fan rattles sporadically on the floor. It does little to thwart the onslaught of sweat gathering on her back pressed as it is against the fleece.

She stares at the screen of her phone, scrolling rhythmically through the Facebook newsfeed. Her breaths come slow, relaxed, as image after image pass her view.

His footsteps ascend the stairs, weighty on the worn wood.

She likes a posted picture of a cat screaming. The caption reads, “Highwayyy to Helll!”

“Hey,” he says, closing the door and letting his backpack sag from his shoulders to the floor.

“Hey,” she responds, skimming over a post by her mom. Her nose wrinkles.

He slumps to his knees, flopping his face onto her stomach. The smell of his aftershave wafts towards her, and her fingers curl into his hair.

The screen remains lit on the dropped phone.

“How was your day?” she asks.


The front door opens downstairs as their roommate enters. They listen to the footsteps as their roommate clunks to the kitchen, keys jingling.

They exhale together, and she giggles.

“What?” he asks.

“I can feel your heartbeat against my crotch,” she tells him.

A moment passes.

“This is the closest we’ll ever be,” he says. The fan clatters several seconds and then settles again. Before she can respond, his phone chimes from his pocket.

The space he occupied becomes cold, as he leans back to extract the screen. She watches as his eyes become transfixed, transparent.

She picks up her own phone from the bed, the feed slipping by beneath her finger as though no minutes were spared. The images blend into one motion.

Hours will pass as unspoken thoughts fill the space of the room.


© AvenKain