Death in August/February

by Euan Wallace

Kids are dying in houses strangled by kudzu vines

Houses in-between mangled sidewalks

Small-pocked with tufts of jaundiced wiregrass and goldenrod

That’s just how August is, I guess

Hell. No words

Kids are drifting off the face of the earth next to space heaters

Wrapped in piss-stained sleeping bags

Mumbling goodbyes in coal-thick snow

That’s just how February is, I guess

Hell. No words

They can’t even bury ‘em all in Huntington they die so quick

Hell. No words. I saw a kid once at the shopping center

He was in a hurry. He was gonna score. He had the flu

Hell. No words. He was in a bad way

Hell. My speech slurred just looking at him.

I talked to a guy nodding off at the Irish bar in town

He walked outside on his phone and went white mid-sentence

Fell head-first right into the curb

Hell. No words. Black jelly

Oozed out of his head instead of blood.

When the paramedics got there he was sneezing

Bright yellow bile then he went purple

And they asked me “has he taken anything”

Hell. No words. Other than “probably”

He didn’t have a pulse

They put a vial under his nose and he gasped

And they started with the rib-cracking CPR

And he died again

Hell. No words. He lurched back, gasping for a spell

Then he died a third time.

They cracked another rib and stuck their mouths

On his bile-caked lips and breathed

Into his tar-coated lungs just hoping

Hell. No words.

All for shit pay and no words they did it anyway, hell