“Murder Ballad” by Ailin Cao

your skull is a subway tunnel –
all your friends
rattle through
ear to ear – they
seldom rest.

i didn’t want to wait
for your teeth
to drop
like baby shoes. i didn’t want
to wait. i befriended you

and named each complaint
with a pickaxe clink –
nail to

and so we walk the iron
now, and so we sleep in emptied
hollows –

we thin
the light like soup and feed the fug,
hopscotch the ribs
and have no need for
attire or articulation, we
scavenge –

the lanterns

along the bridges,
the widow’s coin, the
rattle, dropped
in the crevasse. the cradle,
the scattering of ribbons.

and when we rest, mercury is tipped
from the thermos – it ebbs – it cries itself a dozen baby moons –
now orange with sodium
light – now silver
in your

your skull is a
hollow nest, my friend –
we sip, we sweat, we
seldom rest.


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