We came from the dumb-struck future stuck
          in clock towers and the ghosts of DeLorean cars,
          Whitewater and the million-man march,
          war criminals in Bosnia, OJ and his glove,
          a unabomber’s manifesto in 35,000 words.
 
          We came as prodigies of an accidental world
          velvet lipped, fatherless, bathing
          ourselves in the anarchy of the image,
          cleaning ourselves under the green glow
          of its great disintegration,
          under the black gleam of mosh pits,
          fistfuls of feedback and noise,
          where we collected guitar picks
          from dead rock stars
          and strung them from our necks
          like small scraps of scripture.
 
          We came from the fog of subdivisions and cul-de-sacs
          where our mothers drank beer from coffee cups,
          their eyes lit with the white smoke of their cigarettes
          while we went to school in abandoned strip malls
          spent our days studying the science of broken exhaust
          pipes, history’s landmines, laying our heads on our desks,
          slinking our way through the oil spills of our dreams
          as third world countries scattered around us,
          a paralyzed superman drank from a sippy cup
          and god kept o.d.’ing in the dirty bathrooms
          of Italian hotel rooms.
 
          We came home at night with X’s on our hands,
          knock-kneed and dragging our parents’
          passed-out bodies up the stairs at dawn,
          their singed lashes fluttering in oblivion, scared
          to grow old, scared to grow old, as Hollywood
          made films about devil children and we left
          our beds unmade, emptied plastic ash trays,
          wrote song lyrics on drywall, kicked holes
          through the hollowed out doors just to feel pain,
          feel something like pain in the utopia
          of tri-level homes, squeezing our throats.
 
          We came wearing bonfires in our hair, the sizzle
          of matches on our tongues, torn flannels, lipstick
          navels, stained with hair dye and mascara,
          teetering on the porch railings of mid-November,
          legs dangling over the edge like broken
          Christmas ornaments as the aroma of hash
          sailed from our mouths.
 
          We came in the hundreds, swarming the dark
          rooms of run-down clubs, searching for
          something like salvation from the back walls
          of 2am, listening to a liturgy of burnt voices,
          sheathed in lightening
          the arm of a guitar
          swinging wildly before us
          like the broken hand of a compass
          blindly dividing
          the here from the after.
 
          We came feral and undone.
          Bright-boned and broken.
          We licked each other’s bruises
          because it tasted like home,
          tasted like black licorice, like smoke
          from our mother’s blouses when
          we were young enough to remember.
          We took it in like communion, took it
          until our bodies fell to the floor
          a tangle of white crosses littering
          the sides of the road, a thousand
          wild flowers and weeds, the screams
          of trees nesting in our eyes
          at 90 miles an hour in a blur.
 
          We came as we were
          barefoot and alone
          pale thin and touched
          by everything.
          The newspapers
          didn’t know what to do with us
          The reporters
          barely knew what to call us
          before we knelt in front of them
          bowed our heads
          under a white avalanche
          of moonlight
          and set ourselves on fire.
 
 
 
 
 
KELLY MICHELS received her MFA from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Redivider, Reed Magazine, Nimrod, Ruminate, among others.  Her chapbook, Mother and Child with Flowers, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013.