kelli lage

I cruise to the WayBack Machine 

combing through universes

where we are still living.

I’m alive in every place we’ve been

and it takes a toll on my lungs.
I scroll through pages,

filtering out sleepovers where foreign mattresses

bent secrets from the mouth of my spine.

Portraits of smokes are seductive,

but they burnt my nostrils at parties.
Exit tab.

Bruise of my first heartbreak in the back of my throat.

Same old stories of the same arm, broken in the same places.
Exit tab.

My grandmother at her kitchen table,

but she grieves my straightener burnt hair and dye job.

Exit tab.

Paintings of alleyways in my old high school.

I know they’re ivory bricks now.

Too many kids roamed into promises of color,

never ricocheting home.

Exit tab.

Not saving Friday nights for my childhood dog.

I beg God to resurrect my oversized pajama t-shirt.

I’ll stay with her this time.

Exit tab.


I land at a bonfire where I can see everyone’s face

clearer than any hallucination.

Bare feet and hard lemonade, 

dizzy with toothsome bites of us.

If tabs aren’t exited headlong, all magic is ruined.

Despite fever coated warnings,

I crack open my cursor.

Swiftly, everyone remembers 

I lost her sweatshirt that night,

but instead of unbraiding me, they spit out,

“your teeth are growing in backwards.”

Kelli Lage is a poetry reader for Bracken Magazine and Best of the Net nominated poet. She is the author of Early Cuts and I'm Glad We Did This. Lage's work has appeared in Stanchion Zine, Maudlin House, The Lumiere Review, Welter Journal, and elsewhere. Website:

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