portrait of new year’s eve in the city of my birth
by Lauren Licona

i wind myself into a coil on nights like this / tight as the seal of a cork / all pressure / and i wish i could be all laughter / all girl / not tension headache / or makeshift mother / telling friends / to garland caution around their necks / to dress themselves in careful /we ride past a laundromat i haven’t seen / since the summer of violence and heat / there is a sign in the window that reads / “we will always remember” / and it reminds me how all of orange avenue was once alight with neon and carefree bodies / before bouncers stood in each club doorway with handguns jutting from their hips / severe and stoic like church ushers / before we decorated the soccer field of our high school with forty-nine paper angels / before friends walked the hallways with t-shirts airbrushed with the names and faces / of people this neighborhood both birthed and buried / and the streets of this city will always be a shrine / now / with a procession of empty police cars blocking off roads / and street lamps like velas burning in a quiet home / we stop near the block / sectioned off for celebration / “stay together” / and / “make sure you’re paying attention.” / we never say for what or who anymore / we know / and i am all tension headache / and all mother / it is nearly midnight / five / four / and we are one year farther fromallthatwe’velost / three / two / andwewalkthestreetsclingingtoeachother / pastthethrong ofpeople / hysterical / laughing / near-naked / one / myshoessoakedwithchampagnefroman uncorked bottle / confetti and lips land on the top of my head / and i think of everyone i’ve ever loved / how i’ve tried to cling to them / afraid they will slip through my fingers / when they are all here / and pooled around me / how every time i come home / i try to make sense / of all the senseless things i saw / growing up from grief / here / now / this street in my city is a congregation / there is a raving man with a megaphone / standing on a pulpit made from produce crates / voice cutting in and out / through the roar of all these people / alive / above the crackled pulse / the smoke of makeshift poppers and sparklers / and the cherried ends of joints littered on the ground / “listen! / do you see the truth of allthisundyinglight? / ¿whataboutyou / girl? / mythroatuncoils / andiamalllaughter / alltears

Lauren Licona is an indigenous Latinx poet based in Boston, MA by way of Sanford, FL. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Prometheus Dreaming, diode poetry journal, Raiz Magazine, and Rookie Mag. She has performed on final stage at FEMSlam 2018 and represented Emerson College at CUPSI in 2019. She is currently working towards her BA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing at Emerson College. She can usually be found procrastinating in a library or dancing with friends at odd hours, and wants you to know it is beneficial to be tender any time you have the chance. You can also catch her on twitter: @douxrose_