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Volume 12 • Number 2 • Fall - Winter 2020

Sarah Duncan

In a Name

I have started putting the names on my wall.
I write them on yellow post-its
in blue pen,
the same pen
in which I write these lines.
I trace the names
with the only markers I have:
neon green, neon pink, baby blue.
Inappropriate colors
for a memorial wall.

But I like to think, for the ghosts of the names,
that these colors might feel like their name in lights
on a marquee, boasting
of their glory, their essence, their renown
to a fantasy world that knows them
as alive.

Names on tombs are already too grey,
like ash and the newsprint
in the obituary columns.

With each trace of pink neon on a curve or cross,
I insist on seeds over burial, on grief grasping
hands in solidarity with a celebration

of breath that dances to the light and beat
of that MPD 3rd Precinct Station

on fire.

Addict Calling

Mark is not his real name. Mark is anonymous. And so am I, to him, as I dial the Sex and Love Addiction daily inspiration phone line to get a recorded message from him. It reminds me of calling into a radio show, like people do in movies. Hi, you’re live Donna, calling in from Des Moines, what can I do for you? I like it. The message is hokey. He tells us to live by a code: his code is “Live, Laugh, Love.” I snort derisively, but I feel a pang of tenderness. Is that a code, Mark? Aren’t those just verbs? But well, so is recover. And talk, connect, work the steps. Make a call. Call. Join a meeting. Meet. Don’t text your exes, or the friends you wish liked you more than they do, or your roommates, or those seventeen Tinder matches, or your teachers, or anyone you’ve imbued with the responsibility of loving you like your mother never did, or could. Text, wish, like, imbue, love, did, could. Is “could” a verb? Could be. Be. Yes. Could be is everything. The pulse of life underneath the desire to feel well, to feel loved without feeling like you’re dying, to be rejected without feeling like you’re dying, to be alone, to be with others without feeling like you’re trapped, bad, an outsider. To be. Could. Could be. I could be. Couldn’t I? The line beeps, waiting for me to leave my response to Mark’s thoughts. Do you think I could be, Mark? Just be, Mark? Live, laugh, love, like you, Mark? I wonder how he imagines me.

Sarah Duncan (she/her) is a queer cis white neurodivergent mad femme joy-seeker/maker living in Boston who writes poems and plays, sings, acts, teaches, organizes, and sometimes even tells jokes on stages. Duncan received her MFA in Poetry and Hybrid Forms at the University of Wyoming in 2018. Her poetry has been published by Claudia Rankine's The Racial Imaginary Institute, Souvenir Lit Journal, Heavy Feather Review, and the anthology, States of the Union, among others. Her chapbook, Week/End, was published in 2019 by Headmistress Press.