Wing Stop Kids

kid one

school was a tar-tipped cloud
and you never stayed long

at a drive-thru
you begged another kid’s dad for money
slipping through the cracks
of mcdowell road
eyes ringed with death’s shadow
arms tracked with a wish to fly

kid two

you meowed in class
half-smoked cigarettes
tucked behind your ears
as your ankle bracelet nagged
the whole school to charge it

to keep your hands busy
you sorted paper clips
and filled out job applications
but nothing could stop
the sleepless dreams
of being locked up

you told me

it means i’m going back miss

wing stop bathroom

tar stains the sink
needles and tin foil
pepper the trash can
eyes gone
heads nodding

one mother says you can’t be helped
and the other never shows


you throw yourself off the stairs from a rope
and land in a county hospital bed

your friends sign a card i buy you
stamped with a shiny-winged tiger
your mom stops answering calls
your caseworker goes silent
and i’m too scared to send it


the grapevine says
you are sober and alive

in a box in my new classroom
besides paper clips
cat hair
and things
left unpacked
the sealed orange envelope
that never found you
burns a hole like wings

Sophia McGovern is a sleepy English teacher at an alternative high school in Tempe, Arizona. She is pursuing a master’s degree in secondary education, runs little somethings press, and has too many book t-shirts. Her work can be found in the Beautiful Cadavers Project Anthology, Uncomfortable Revolution, Crux Magazine, Four Chambers Press, and other publications.