City With a Strong Grip
I claim the cracked up
City—high slit skirt
Renting out legs and mouthing
Off to the night.
My body was concrete dust
With your knee in my
Crotch, like pain was a boy
On the sidewalk. Nearby,
The blast of manholes—
Up every few seconds.
The war is underground,
Graffiti walls say, neon
Rats scuttling by with swording
There’s a wrecking ball, dirt
Raining on my head like
A crown. Tar queen
Dripping, the gutters countable.
The last time we kissed
We kissed like you were leaving
And I was leaving, the city in the back-
Ground wheezing smoke.
It’s true: the road is a slick whip against
My back. It’s true: the city’s a choke-
Hold and I can’t leave.
This is the home wrecker
I am: small barb in a prison’s metal
Fence, cigarette burning
On an empty street,
Stubbing myself out until blunt.
City With Two Fingers In Its Mouth
All the stoops beetle out, stairs pouting
their cracked wooden lips. The gutters holler
obscenities as I pass—thin slats looking up my skirt,
whistling garbage, Vivaldi, sex.
I can’t help my small heart.
I am buttoned up quiet—brisk, alone.
I avoid most leaves on the street, but it’s night
and sometimes I snap.
I keep my eyes to the ground eyes to the ground
eyes to the ground and wait to see how long
it takes me to break my pace or dust the snow
from my back.
I’m two blocks away before I notice the city
outlined in iron, a block away before I feel
the punch of another hidden curb.
Every night I am chilled, and the windows
I pass are shut, the doors locked, the blue
throb of street lamps kicking in my ears.
The neighborhood is growing hands
and teeth as the wind picks up, the snow heavier,
thick ice clutching the sidewalk.
You dressed up as a doe to match my eyes, deep
fawn with flecks of hurt gold. Arriving late
with a pill in my throat, I watched your boyfriend
tail you—camo-clad, sling bow shining. It was all
too ironic, as if we planned our own end.
Antlers askew, fourth beer in hand, you pinched
my ass in the backyard, told me my whiskers
were smudged. In your bathroom, we fucked
quickly—everything about it pressing and
miserable. Outside, the lights hung low. Jack-o-
lanterns grinned or grimaced, and you moved
through the people, high on my need and his
need and need. I retreated to your couch
rubbing my nose. Your boyfriend sat down
beside me, showed me his sling bow, said he’d
shot some squirrels and rabbits with it. He asked
if I wanted to hold it. As the heavy metal chilled
my fingers, he whispered: all small things are easy
to kill if the grass is low enough. Outside,
you kicked on the garden sprinklers. We watched
as you swanned darkly, the black water trilling
around you, half the bow in his hand, the other
half in mine.
About The Writer
Megan Peak currently lives in Columbus, Ohio and is enrolled in The Ohio State University’s MFA program. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in A cappella Zoo, The Bakery, The Boiler Journal, Four Way Review, DIAGRAM, PANK, Pleiades, Stone Highway Review, and THRUSH Poetry Journal.