Smokers’ Lane goes back like a throat
between tonsil-trees and the church.
Branches, slick-black, prod my shadow;
lead them to me like jackals.
In corridors, they press me like bruises.
Still, they do not know me,
even after four slow years
where my silence and my clever pen
has rocked them senseless with laughter.
They see me and glitter with sovereigns
tight on their nicotine fingers.
Skirt-tugging, creamy thighs
spread on cracking walls—
Look at us!
collars skewed like dead birds,
cigarettes dripping, chapstick lips,
drunk at nine in the morning.
Uniformed, neat as an angel,
I pass their mucused laughter
and blush at the fall of my name.
Piercings clink on bad teeth.
three o’clock death knell,
the long walk home through the gate.
It’s like wading knee-deep in dogshit,
those scathing names—fucking swot—
stinking my clothes out for days.
I carry my words like secret friends
they would trample and burn in the lane.