Self-Portrait as a 21st-Century Monody by Grace Marie Liu

I have forgotten how to sing.
At CVS, I impulse buy two bottles
of cherry syrup. Ten percent off,
I tell my mother, who shrieks
My god, how sick are you,
by which she means
how dead have you become.
The only thing I remember
from biology is how to check
if something is alive.
I should poke this poem with
the Big Dipper’s handle
and watch as my words
begin to travel backward.
There is a shadow
cast in my Californian body,
where a lost star-girl
lights menthol cigarettes
in my throat. I swallow
the summer wind, sharp like flesh,
and she tells me she missed me
somewhere in between New York
and the dollar store. How lonely
we must be. I had forgotten how to weaponize thirst.

Grace Marie Liu is a teen writer from Michigan. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kissing Dynamite, Interstellar Literary Review, Aurora Journal, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @graceewrites, where she tweets about almond butter and occasionally her writing.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.