Someone has spray-painted the word DIE
on the pavement where the road snakes
through swaying reeds, away from the beach,
back toward town. The word is red.
I stand where he stood, imagining
the thin arms of a boy, his determined finger
on the nozzle, the nascent muscles of his back
and his perfect pink guts all knotted up.
It's as dark outside as it is in when he bends
forward, doubled over by this small crime,
the act of one too young to know
the word he chose is an empty threat.
Tomorrow the men from town will roll up
in their rattling, dripping truck, get out
their buckets and their long-handled rollers,
show him what to do with pain.
Brett Warren (she/her) is an editor whose poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including The Comstock Review, duality, Halfway Down the Stairs, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Right Hand Pointing, Eunoia Review, Unbroken Journal, Green Fuse, One Sentence Poems, Primavera, Cape Cod & the Islands Magazine, and Provincetown Magazine. She holds a BA in English literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lives in Massachusetts.