“Fire Drill” by Kevin Leonard

Manny got picked up by his aunt around noon, so
he wasn’t around that night
when someone microwaved three packages of EasyMac
at once because they were suuuper hungry
and set the timer to fifteen minutes
“because, we like, thought you were supposed to add them together.”

The Nuclear Holocaust voice
that warned us over the PA that
was more ironic than annoying tonight;
I shoved headphones in my ears,
thinking of the impersonality of
people getting news they don’t deserve,
in dorm rooms they don’t really live in
from hall directors they don’t know.

Everyone huffed and ohmygodded their way
down the stairs, and I thought about
the muddy steps Manny might be shuffling down now
into some bullshit basement morgue
to claim a body bag.

I see a couple of bros wearing cutoffs,
and wonder what they dress dead people in
before they’re presented all powdery in the funeral room,
wonder how raw and cool his dad’s skin might be
if he touched it.

I wanted to tell him I get it,
but I don’t.
What the hell do I know?
All I did was pack his toothbrush
and his PS3.

I want to be there like the lagoon I’m
walking towards,
as I slip away from circles
of jabbering students.

Like grief on a college campus, the lagoon
has a silent mystique.

Tonight, the water is magnetic.
I crack some ice on the edge, and slip in.
My headphones fizzle out as the filmy surface seals
over my head.

For a moment,
my movements float
and through stillness
I can feel the breath
of frozen fish.

Now my body’s convulsing,
and old air is being wrenched
from my lungs.

Maybe here,
in the algae hum,
is a place I can pray.

Kevin Leonard is a poet from Rockaway Beach, NY. His work has also appeared in A Narrow Fellow and Your Impossible Voice. He attended SUNY Oswego and is a diehard NY Islanders fan. He currently lives in New Orleans with his fiancée, Khrystyne, their dog, and three cats.

Image: “Albertus is all of us” by Daniel Nester

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