The cicadas came out again and All three boys from up the street shaved their heads, Their scalps are turning a deep shade of pink,
Sizzling and blistering like bacon in a pan,
Hunched over the sidewalk,
Cargo shorts torn, Slipknot shirts smelling chalky and
One of them (The oldest) Sprinkles a pinch of salt onto the slimy back of
Another one (The youngest) Chuckles through his wonky teeth That lean and poke like an old cemetery,
He picks his nose and eats a dry booger.
The middle one is blind in his left eye And the right one is starting to fail him but
he laughs along anyway.
I approach them on my scooter,
Barefoot, Sporting a pair of shorts That I cut from a pair of Goodwill jeans
And tell them that
My mom doesn’t like it when they kill slugs
In our driveway
They call me a dyke and tell me to go away
And I, Hot with anger and Virginia heat, Tell them that they are ugly,
Which does not harm them.
Boys who point their naked heads Toward the sun After their scalps have already begun to bleed and
Ooze Cannot be harmed by the words of a neighbor girl,
And I, (The neighbor girl) Decide in that moment Not to be harmed By the words of filthy boys Who see me for what I am and Hate me for it.
They rise from their low squats,
Hop on their dirt bikes and
Pedal uphill Out of sight,
Leaving the dried up slug
At the end of my driveway.
Family Life Education (F.L.E.)
My teacher spits a mouthful of sunflower seeds
Into a tin can While the grainy image of a woman Gives birth
On a torn projection screen.
The girl sitting beside me vomits
Into a garbage can By the pencil sharpener, She asks to go to the bathroom
To brush the carnage
Out of her braces.
Girl scurries out,
Moist Virginia heat creeps in From the cracked window In the back of the classroom Like a snake that has Escaped from a barrel of hot water,
My neck sweats.
A single seed
“Dings” Into the can.
I wonder if the new mother
On screen Feels as repulsed as I do
By her husband
Who stands in the corner of
Of the delivery room And cautiously Holds her hand.
Did she hold her breath
Were her eyes closed?
I attempt to build
My own husband
In my mind:
His arms are veiny And he wears leather shoes,
He shifts his weight
Nervously From one foot to the other
As he cheers me on From the corner Of my delivery room.
When I sculpt is hands
In my imagination,
My stomach pulls,
Like a puzzle piece being jammed
Into the incorrect corner.
My neck sweats.
When will I dream of boys
Panting beside me In dark childhood bedrooms?
Around us Like a swarm of flies.
The vomit From the garbage can
Mixes with the hot air
Of early June,
Forming a pungent
The girl returns, Braces picked clean, She smells of
Public-School Hand Soap.
I pass her a piece of gum
From my backpack.
Our fingers touch
Lightly As she takes it.
Faith R. Johnson is an emerging poet from Virginia. She is based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan where she lives in lesbian bliss with her partner, Indigo, and their many pets. Faith is a recent graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and her work can be found in The Minetta Review, The Esthetic Apostle, and Egg y Pan Magazine. Faith's writings often reflect on suburban upbringing and LGBTQ+ identity.
"Untitled (Detail)" by Maria Patsopoulos