"Zodiac Killer" by Naomi Bartlett

Always            through glass you screamed into yourself

before            July knew you before Newports before morphine and blank-slate

catharsis         through county fair dry heat wet cotton candy vomit on asphalt and there

Daddy             sweats oils and carcinogens shrieks fury bellows candor he

echoes            holy illness he is chapped and necking with indigence he is

fifty                  years old and holding you by the wrist taking you to heathen

gods                who breathe peek-a-boo, you are doomed and you’re salty in susurrus sobbing

honey              gumming eyelids viscid and glistening glazed like windows like his eyes after –


I                         am sorry

jarred                childhood on the carousel and

killjoy                filler remember black dahlia remember lust remember bottleneck choke and tang



let                      you be sawtoothed let you soak in stagnation let

my                     hotels grow stale leering through peepholes pillow mints melted face

neighbors         coughing phlegm lungs all rot and entropy so you

overdose          on lullaby and angel dust smoke disassociation

pathologically   drowning transience in a flash flood of ether

quickly              gorging yourself on lapse and navel-gazing you


ran                   laughing into the arms of

some               soft eggshell canopy where mother waits smelling of

turpentine       like when you were a child and played God

under              the nothing sky coyote song tearing holes pulping life becoming

vacant             and after rats there were Gilas and then jackrabbits and finally

women            preening then sloshing beautifully to the soft eggshell floor brittle limbs now

xenophobic    membranes ripped apart thorax and abdomen merging

you                  said death will know us all you dissolved into trees you dissected yourself

you                  sat down on the Ferris wheel rode it to its

zenith              and you rode round and round round and round all through the town.


Naomi Bartlett lives in Nashville, TN. She spends her days writing, painting, playing the drums, and plotting her escape from the food service industry. She is currently working on completing her BA at Belmont University.