It starts with a yellow line in the sky,

the radioactive decay of your heart

until you’re breaching the crust in Kansas,

learning to grand jete while releasing

handfuls of balloons into the air.

You call this the art of suspension,

but you’re nothing like the sun.




You’ve been injected

with lampblack,

gas black,

or channel black,

but your half-life

isn’t the same

as your mid-life,

so there’s no point

in blaming the coke.

Instead, you spilt

a beam of light

with your pencil,

jot down the word


like you did in college

when they taught you

how to carbon-date

in archeology class,

when no one ever accused you

of not being organic.




It fertilizes you,

fills your lungs with rage,

but your windows are streak-less

and you think this is seeing,

so you pull the trigger a few more times

until you imagine

the fish losing their equilibrium,

their silvery bodies

lolling in circular patterns,

crescendo-ing into convulsions and comas.

You remember the time you found one

trapped inside a pair of eyeglasses,

its one eye bulging with desperation and fear.


Rosemarie Dombrowski is the founder of rinky dink press, the co-founder of the Phoenix Poetry Series, and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ. She is the recipient of five Pushcart nominations, a 2017 Arts Hero Award, the 2017 Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award in Nonfiction, and a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics for her Community Poetry Gardens project. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014), The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She’s the co-founding editor of the student and community writing journal at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus, where she also teaches courses on the poetics of street art, women’s literature, and creative ethnography.