i chew my gum too much.

i think i chew my gum to save my lips.

strangers like me soft and plush and pink,

but those are pretty words for healthy girls.

your kisses tasted like cough syrup.

the gum you chewed to hide your breath

recalls feverish mornings with no alarm;

afternoons under white sheets hiding from the sun;

nights of chills and shivering arms.

it’s this that i tuck into my pillowcase on sleepless nights

because there’s nothing to be done.

so i chew my gum

and the lips you once kissed,

which spend their every awful hour missing you

lay still and shut

alseep in a way i haven’t known in months

i’m always smiling, but my mouth stays shut

blood seeps from the sore, and i think of you;

lick what remains from my lips and think,

it’s not cough syrup

but this will do