Chelsea Hotel, August 1953
by Ciaran Pierce
Runestone, volume 10
Maybe the cigarette, hooked to my lip, was
the flare; and you, the shipwreck. Maybe
it’s true I wanted a child, so I swore I had
never touched another man like that before.
But we were never men, you promised
this—only sinking ships in a hotel room
making islands out of each other.
The flare ignited. The city pouring in. We
began to save ourselves as broken things do
by leaving their pieces behind.
I wanted a child, yes, but men
cannot make such things together.
We knew this, tried anyway, to be
Worn undershirts peeled like second skins.
Plums, ripe with day, kissed straight
off the branch. The hands. The neck—taut
with sweat. The things I would have asked
to keep, I swear. If only
the words of the drowned ever made it
to the surface. If only they heard us living.
For a night. For a hotel bed.
Smoke signals rising in the ashtray.
For a place to put it all—these bodies
like spare change. It’s true: I mistake your
happy trail for the river mouth, my throat
for the sea. We wash dawn from our hair.
The seafoam from our chests.
You name the child—what’s left of it.
The lighthouses turn to bedside lamps.
We go. And sometimes, believe me, I
can taste it on my lips. The cigarette.
Eating itself alive.
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California State University, Long Beach
CIARAN PIERCE is a junior at California State University, Long Beach studying comparative world literature and theatre arts. He writes literary and musical coverage for Fever Dream Zine, an independent magazine located in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not at his desk, you can find him serving boba at the local tea house.