In the Middle

by Suzanne Stas

I broke my mind years, years back

I branched down a

dark careening, unshackled path.

Cobbles fell off at the end’s cliff.

I looked at, rolled fingers on, the rubble.

In the gulped drunken

haze that’s outside

This world crisis

I can barely tell,

If everyone else

is wettening in the corners of their eyes

or pushing out a hoarse, whipped laugh.

I can’t see from a stalled room—

where I can’t smell breath,

whether people follow orders

or triste or hibernate with sadness.

I’m in the middle of the room.

The floor is a burning inferno,

smoke raised to the top

I weep with the man in the middle of the road.

A yellow stripe vest.

A crossing guard turning with me,

watching me pass in an arch.

Turning with wonder as things move.

I’m stuck in the clouds of smoke.

I pinch someone,

to feel their skin wince

And suddenly I don’t need to

bandage my own wounds

Suzanne Stas lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her wife and two cats. She archives things, spins 78 RPM records, and travels when the air is right. She has work in Argot Magazine and Homology Lit. Sabiyha Prince is an anthropologist, artist, and author based in Washington, DC.  Her books and essays explore urban change and African American culture, and her paintings and photo collages grapple with memory, identity, kinship and inequality.

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