for Abby Vasquez


All of our friends are dying but they are the ones to blame, so we shut up about it and sit outside at their old favorite bars, drinking set-ups until we puke. The bars are named after animals or phrases: Red Fox, Crow Bar, Haymaker, Lost and Found.

Our friends shot themselves in one-room apartments, jumped from bridges, hung themselves from garage ropes. They had dark hair, shiny hair, green eyes, red beards, brown eyes, dimples, scars, cellulite. They stooped when they walked, or danced on bikes, or wore layered sweatshirts instead of coats. They played drums, drank beer, bagged groceries, sat houses, or watched other people’s children.

Our friends killed themselves but told us about it first, for too long, first in the winters, then in the summers. Winter: bleak but soon over. Summer: swimming and cheap beer and too many Fourth of July parties. We listened, didn’t listen, stopped calling, called all the time.

Our friends had ideas. They liked Marx, they liked Beauvoir, they hated Ayn Rand or loved her. They liked Beavis and Butt-head and Cake and were in love with sad, sexy singers like Karen O. They spit when they talked, they had bad breath, they wore Gold Toe socks from Sears and Roebuck, or maybe just Sears.

One of our friends stepped off the St. Johns bridge but wore her red cape so that she looked like a capital A going down. Everyone tried to rescue her, or no one did, and we kept swimming, or stopped, or held our breaths, or breathed too much, or went silent, or said, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus when we heard the news, that all of our friends were dead.

Becca Yenser is the author of the chapbook Too High and Too Blue In New Mexico (Dancing Girl Press, 2018) and The Grief Lottery (ELJ Editions, December 2021). Their writing appears in Hobart, Heavy Feather Review, Madcap Review, and elsewhere. Find them on Twitter @beccayenser.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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