Pills from a briefcase
Glass orbited my skull.
A girl loved me for bringing
flavored liquor from the beer store.
I was not afraid of
the backlit eyes of the crow.
Someone released the skeleton of a dog
to roam the empty
of where I lived.
The boy who was terminally ill
told me a white noise like nine thousand voices
was trying to kill him.
Plainclothes cops knocked on the door, but
we were gone.
Making Myself Presentable
Early mornings, I carry the fat suit
to toilet and water.
Make a disguise out of tiny typed lines.
Pretend my fingers in a circle are glasses.
The way to work is a tall crack of iron,
a street in the shape of a skull.
I grin to the bone.
I summit the staircase at the office,
offer praise, but really
I want carts of limes—in rain—
in narrow mountain passes.
I want to find answers in ovens,
find that cardboard boxes are elaborate and lasting.
I want to be received in the city of my choosing.
For now, my opinion is solicited and at once ignored.
Though I wash, shit, and wipe,
my beard grows wild, a body apocalypse.
I am beautiful and grossly out of control.
At Age Twelve
I didn’t like wind
pointing out my sad hairdo.
My army men spun
on the wheel of reincarnation,
battling in the tunnels I dug in
our suburban yard. But I hid them
behind my back when neighbor kids
rode bikes by.
At the skating rink, I ripped my pants
right down the seam
in front of two girls
with perfect skin and hair.
I passively hoped the calliope would save me.
Imagine my disappointment.
People really laughed
that I should have washed more often.
Undressing tortured me
and water seemed too endless.
I wasn’t ready to be seated with others.
But I waited for amazement
to come from outside.
Kyle Vaughn’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies including Poetry East, Confrontation, The Sentence, and Firewheel Editions’ Introduction to the Prose Poem. His prose has appeared in English Journal, where he won the Paul and Kate Farmer Award for his article “Reading the Literature of War: A Global Perspective on Ethics.” His photography has appeared in journals such as Annalemma and Holon, and his book A New Light in Kalighat, featuring photos and stories about the children of sex workers and the children of crematory workers in the Kalighat district of Kolkata (co-photographed and co-authored with Breanna Reynolds), was published in 2013 and featured by Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky Movement. Kyle currently teaches Visual Literacy, Graphic Design, and Creative Writing in Dallas, Texas. More can be found here.