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Breakdown Baby
by Kaymin Hester

I’m on the come up,

           the broken down baby

           reanimated; heartwreck

leaves no proof of life, restless ache

           reminded of harder days

           to come. I’m on the

come up, crowned and cold

           and calculated, crowned

           in gold and cruel–no stakes,

nowhere safe, striving for something

           to crave. I’m on the come up,

           clear eyed through smoke and

clouded day–still and loveless, missing

           rust drenched window to the

           soul, rot in the soles, the

staggered beat of each stutter step.

           heart wrenched pound, fever

           dreaming pale redemption into

being, nothing wavered in

           the face of flame; there’s rot

           in the snow, too black to breathe,

fever swearing it’ll burn away

           infection in the undergrowth,

           moths crowding the inferno

of my spine. nervous invention studded

           with spores, diamond eyes all

           coal at their core; I’m on the

come up, but all I know is what has been

           fed to me. all I know is what I’ve

           been told: mourning leashed sky,

the keening of empty mind, tongue hollow

           with cold–songbird’s false sob, wild

           thrash in bruised night, panting soil

gasps in tandem with mine–tendons wound around

           fingertips, cat’s cradle of soundless

           time–the grief of peace, the knowing

there was nothing left to miss at all.

Kaymin Hester is a poet currently attending the University of Virginia. Her poetry has been published in Zines + Things' "Impropriety" issue, and three of her articles have been published by Deep South Magazine. She was a panelist for the Newfound 2021 Prose Prize and an intern at Deep South. She completed the Poetry of Power Workshop and is now a New City Arts Fellow. She also won third place in the Jefferson School Essay Contest with her essay about how the impact of the Charlottesville Twelve extends to contemporary life and first place in the 2021 Writer's Eye Contest.

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