not the match head shaved bare
in failed attempts to light the signal fire
after the plane passes over the damned island
where you’ve survived the cruel innovations of wind,
specks of red sulfur & chlorate
mixing with the damp sand dunes.
no, not the sci-fi novel you abandoned
quarter-finished on the toilet tank, its heft
left to haunt you every time you brushed your teeth,
until the party during which your bathroom floods
& the book becomes an insufficient sponge,
its pages wet-shredded the same way
gossamer web can be snapped
by the weight of morning dew.
neither the nuclear-shaded soda or the gin
dancing together in a plastic unicorn cup
like two friends in love
who will not tell each other they’re in love.
imagine instead a city ransacked
of sugar, tequila, & kind men.
a fruit fly carrying home empty milk jugs.
the old winn dixie engulfed
in gratitude & disastersmoke.
no, regret’s not a corkscrew mysteriously
pierced through the skull of the man
in the hospital waiting room
the night you ambulance your friend away from a lonely heaven.
regret: the wound you refuse to stitch closed yourself.
the kitchen knife you steal from his bedside,
the blood you wash from the blade in the sink.
Derek Berry (they/them) is the Education Specialist at a Cold War Museum in South Carolina. They are also the author of a novel and two poetry chapbooks. They write book reviews for Free State Review. Twitter @derekberrywrite for tweets about not writing enough.