Zach / New Jersey / Cornell Class of 2018 [Industrial Labor Relations + Creative Writing]


Last summer: molten skies, singed

black at the edges like the hand-

rolled joint you clenched between

your fingers the way those

Bright Young Things in the movies

taught you,

and I remember how the air 

hung all around us, static and heavy - 

electric, you called it, but you’ve always

had a knack for sounding poetic, 

and I was never one to fall 

for stale metaphors


There’s something about hotel rooms, 

the illusion of cleanliness,

sterile as the blood-crusted razor

we found floating in the clogged

sink, that haunts me:

floral prints peeled back,

hanging down from the walls

like loose flesh - 

outside, cigarette smoke curling

around the drained pool, 

as the woman across the hall

in 207 wrapped rope around

her neck, stepped off

of the barebones mattress,

and never quite reached

the floor


Around the time they found her, 

we were sitting in a diner 

twenty miles outside of town:

I was shaking 

and you wouldn’t look me 

in the eye when I told you 

that it’s getting harder 

and harder for me

to remember 

that there is no love

in welts painted 

across throats 

like flaming