Cigar smoke suffocates the ceiling vents,
Leaky pipes sodomize the soul,
Mold festers underneath asbestos-laden wall paint and
Little men in damp recliners
chuckle at the TV.
There are one too many landlords in my conscience
— “Pay up! Pay up!” —
and their meaty hands grab like toddlers at the thick, fleshy walls
Oh greed, oh vitriol
Take until I pay my dues
Take until I pay my dues.
They etch little drawings in the paper-thin atmosphere
trillions of them
They glide like angels atop the pitch-black surface,
dragging their blades in a beautiful line through the fabric.
It is all nothing, though, really,
compared to their infinite canvas.
But they intersect and
they tear this fragile universe to shreds.
They leave a gaping hole where the sun once resided and
wait for it to fill with something more sinister.
They tuck their crusted blades somewhere between the feathers in their wings
and escape through the bloody cavern before it seals shut behind them
with cruel finality.
An intruder stands still at gunpoint
rendered dramatic by candlelight.
Its melting face manages a crooked smile.
Cackles in mockery.
Stout and shivering,
it superglues its blackened feet to the moldy hardwood below.
After years and years of this silent standoff,
I fetch it some tea.
Entry of the Gladiators
Look at me!
I tow the
line between misery and shame
Quite the balancing act!
One large, primary-colored shoe in front of the other…
parachute trousers blowing in the high altitudes…
polka-dot gloves stretched one hundred and eighty degrees…
my red, styrofoam nose leads the way.
Come one, come all!
is anybody looking?
… i hope that wherever i plummet,
this horrible updo somehow evaporates in the wind.
Ode to Femininity
A feminine way to love —
plentiful and unabashed.
The feminine exchange of time
of laughter and togetherness
feminine responsiveness and feminine urgency
body leaned forward,
sipping sweet drinks,
an energetic back and forth of knowledge and honesty
of emotion and joy.
The feminine proclivity to trust
and bloom under the warmth of other feminine souls.
The feminine sense of self
that defiantly contends that you deserve more.
That furrows its brows and rolls its eyes at the failures of masculinity
That gives you unconditional sanctuary in its arms.
Ash Romero is a 17-year-old poet in Temecula, California. In the past, he has been published in The WEIGHT Journal and the Teen Poet Laureate Finalist Chapbook 2021.