Tilted – Paige Johnson

Stained my bedroom floor with blue agave my stomach spit up like turpentine.
As translucent, poison as sweet-smelling. Arsenic disguised as a soft beverage.
Splattered my most prized possessions with my guts ’cause I have none.
Cost nothing. 99 shooters give me as many problems with no sense back.
Refused cash back at the register the night before because a five-finger discount
Evens out enough in the end. Lucky only my liquor comes from the Middle East.
Otherwise, I’d lose my mind and the third pinky on my left hand to a deadbeat profit.

But in America, it still feels like I’m spitting up sand. Another wave-running venture
Reduced to rocks black-and-whites pickaxe so I can snort it up, punctuate a sentence.
Got new reasons to sing like a jailbait bird. Grown old on these elixirs, tired
of excuses for excess, even as more pour out, bead my forehead and looking glass.
Watermarked my name on a few wrinkly paper- and green-backs, so I know how
To keep a record spinning, a needle grinding so I don’t get too idle.
Yet I’m stalling with Stolis, writing it off as story-worthy while I puke away
Plotlines and redeeming character arcs with community college sorority antics.
Pledged my allegiance to a false allegation, conviction with no follow-through.

Mattress girl without a trending blog. Alterna-tard actress who missed the spike strip.
No court papers or third degree. A briefcase as empty as the moon-craters I stare up
To from a mesh box in nights too still to shake from memory. Under the night light,
A microscope hovers over me. I don’t know how I can withstand its weight, how
My wrist never tires holding it, bent at odd angles like a tortured ant, torrents of
Sugar water taunting my crumpled form from the sidelines. When I swallow,
It burns, but that’s how I know it’s working. Someone’s watching.