Author: Mckendy Fils-Aime

Mckendy Fils-Aime hails from Manchester, NH. His work has appeared in Word Riot, Drunk In a Midnight Choir, and FreezeRay. Follow him on Twitter.

TRANSIENT SUMMER

when grief is the longest season of the year
rapture is a transient summer. in the fall

after you left, heat shoved the city
into its mouth & chewed for a while.

despite the ardors, i didn’t take off
my jacket, didn’t unbutton myself

for new lovers. i stayed here, raking
leaves — burnt sienna death certificates

scattered across the lawn – into pyres.
the cedar branches hunched over the house

like Tom Sawyer watching his own funeral
& i wondered if you wanted to be dead

like that, caught in the moment before
one decides to call something missing

or gone. i do not expect you to come back,
to wrap your corn silk silhouette in my sheets

again. the moon, now a feckless flashlight
hovering above where you used to lay.

& this is the part where i say i’ve lost
sleep – a half exorcised ghost. an almost burned

church – but on this litany of hot days
it is not surprising when dawn licks my closed eyes

with its orange tongue & my bed is a bed
& not a half dug grave, not a tombstone

etched with the first part of your name.
i know that happiness is a leap month

in the calendar of loss. temporary at best.
often, we forget & step into new houses

like we are ready for permanence.
we sit alone on warped porches,

our legs too eager to carry us away
from whatever ruin we once called home.

DEER TICK

My first kiss was a blood-letting.
I took him into my mouth;
a dirty siphon, held his arm
when we walked through the wood,
its pathways infected by light.
I listened to the choir of his motion, 
the organ wail in each sprint, watched
the sweat bubbled on his skin vanish
when he plunged into the lake.
I stood on the shore as he floated 
back up, teeth first, like loss 
was a contract signed with his smile,
I held my swollen belly & called
his name. Once for every poppy inside
yet to hatch.

LYING IS LIKE BUILDING A BUNGALOW

you should stop after one or two
floors. belief can only afford so much
space to live. it does not know what to do
with a palace: endless corridors & guest
bedrooms with walk-in closets & mink
coats, private jacuzzis & bottles of
champagne. it will spread itself so thin
trying to do everything that even its ghost
will be too tired to haunt the house.
it does not thrive well in anything
larger than a shack. trust me. i’ve built
enough empty cities to know.

DEATH SPEAKS TO CHICAGO

If children are churches, I am a prayer
uncoiled inside a baby’s heart,
a father’s screams cracking open
a quiet afternoon. Panic unfolding a family
like origami. I am a river of news reports, empty-
ing my inky sediment into the sea,
ziggurats of dark bodies plastered
on front pages. The sound a neglected boy
makes when he turns a megaphone
into a gun. I am the hollow plea
of that gun as it rings through every-
body. A shrapnel faculty photographed
testing the organs of charcoal men. We are a burning
yearbook stuffed with quizzes on block
& corner, police tape & blood splatter. Chicago,
I am teaching your boys how to vanish
into their own smoldering. Won’t you watch
the cameras bewitched by the fire, the smoke
for just a moment? Won’t you archive
this one night stand of sympathy, this flash
fiction of grief & stay the morning? No one else will
if you ask. It is always easier to demolish
than to deconstruct. It is always easier to watch
the beta fish war against its own reflection
than to remove the mirror. Chicago, you are gorgeous
but no one remembers why. Not in this light
that shines hard over your cemeteries,
blossoming new gravestones. Not in how they call
you an ugly home, caked with negro stucco. A city
carving black out of itself like the pit of a lychee.

ARTEMIS WORKS IN A FLOWER SHOP

During the interview, when asked why
she wants the position, she lies.
There isn’t much work out there
for hunting gods.

Artemis remembers Troy every morning,
her scapulae, sacks of sorghum seeds,
Her hands a soft eulogy for bow & arrow
She still practices sometimes:

Before her morning coffee she cleans
the storefront. Sets a garden against
the window: thistles, peonies, marigolds.
She smears glint into the glass,

sips her latte & waits for
the first flock; the glaze of
early commute heavy in their eyes.
She’s never surprised by the first thud
or the second or the third. The birds
knock themselves against the glass

& soon the flower shop is a snare
drum surrounded by cooing sticks;
percussion avian. A marching band
of scurry & feather. She laughs loudly

at the panicked birds, until she spots
a small torpid bronze ball of feathers.
She watches a wounded baby
finch fly. Use its broken wing to trace a helix
mid-air, before crashing into the lithic
indifference of the storefront.

She recalls an arrogant man from years ago
traveling by boat with his daughter.
How she hesitated when he gave
the girl as currency for his sneers,
how she could not hesitate now.

Artemis scoops the finch to move
from the budding crime scene & weeps.
She asks the bird if it wants
to lay on a soft patch of grass.
The finch’s head anchors against her palm
frozen in mid affirmation.
She places the bird under a wilting willow.
The dead know best how to comfort the dying.