Halloween, we rubber-snap brittle faces—Gumby, Underdog, Zira of Planet of the Apes. We can’t see through pinholes and wet breath, so we flip up the masks, movie-star style, until the door swings open and a bowl lowers down twinkling with popcorn balls, lacquer candy apples, Bazooka gum wrapped in comics, neon-yellow smiley stickers or the motherlode: full-sized Clark bars. Two families per duplex means pillowcases full of Bit-O-Honey, Laffy Taffy, Red Hots. Mars Bars and Milky Ways, for we are space-age kids. First generation for chemical candy. Necco Wafers taste like medicine. Good & Plenty look like barbiturates. We refrain from nibbling, like we’re in a game show losing time. Back home, we heap the goods on olive embossed carpet, sort, catalog, trade—like Monopoly we prolong for weeks, with real currency. Our mother sneaks in at night for the chocolate. O! Theft of chocolate so ours, saved to be savored. Take the fake lime Life Savers, chewy Chuckles too big for one bite, too sticky to hold the bitten half. Leave us the Reese’s, purple grit Pixy Stix, mouthful of big wax lips–part clown, part hooker–bubble gum cigars prepping my brother for the board room. We cross our legs to smoke candy cigarettes.
One more last-call load: that fat stack of battered paperbacks
Half-packed in bootleg boxes, leftover cardboard,
Makeshift hymnals reinforced with duct-taped crosses
When you kiss me, the distance peels
her fingers from the south,
shoves hemispheres into my mouth.
Slashed my wrists