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sneeze blood
all spring

& stomp on
red flowers

their tiny weak

outside the deli
where a man was fatally shot yesterday

I was there ten minutes earlier
buying beer

for myself
with quarters M. saved

now a sheet of computer
paper with his overstretched

and pixilated smile is nailed to the wall

when I die and there’s no
space left please don’t sign

my teeth we miss you





I love the way the female
J train voice

says “Canal Street”

hurt as if canal
was an old friend

or lover or maybe

a sister
showing up

with her
favorite meal

a number two
two double

cheeseburgers no

you left
she says

we all left


Sunday morning
in Philadelphia

I‘m sitting in

watching Mission Impossible
on a cracked tv

and crying when
I see

three sisters walking
to church

in the rain

yellow dresses

and black deli bags over
what I imagine

is curled hair


you think I have nothing
left in New York

today I saw my
best friend Alex

for the first time
in a year

her fingers have strange symbols
tattooed on them

she said they represent
a second farewell

cool I told her


holding her

and her fingers

when I thought
of James

who at age 15 stabbed a
kid at the boardwalk

who once smashed a vending
machine at the rec center

we ate a dozen Snickers
a block away

as the cops searched
for us

who stole me my first
12 pack

which I drank warm because
I was afraid

to use my parent’s
fridge who last night

walked out back of
a house party

back home and hanged
himself from a tree

I am not going to sit

and lie about how or

or what kind
of tree

James I am not
going to sit here





set my phone alarm
to creek sounds
& dream up
an average lake


my coworker
has bird issues
she poisons seed
an ex’s monosyllabic name
lends itself to constant song


summer work in the city
is a brutal mess
a green cab overheats
vines conceal building numbers
so the mailmen strike


then flowers
red sorry things
for our


I eat cherries
under scaffolding
I flick the pits east
its a ritual
for cash




4 mattresses
we stacked drunk
we fall off laughing
nuisance stream
freezing & refreshing


why rise up from dirt
I return to it
the underpaid
blast me off
the courthouse


I call parsnips
pour my wine down
the sink
my thumb
makes a song
in the night
earth on glass




Kurt Havens lives in Queens, New York. He grew up in central New Jersey.