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Red Paint

alex tretbar / poem

[alone once, in a green room with a cellophane center]

alone once, in a green room with a cellophane center

you brought me inert state-subsidized food for the third time

in twice as many days, there is no such thing as non sequitur

under capitalism, they used to play music during the slaughters

and I am hungry, darling, and there are blue crystals in the blue rug

someone told you so, I remember the subsequent conscription

of adolescents to tend the soft mines, and your candled reluctance

to admit of any doings, anything that might be traced back

to a sickness far too near to ever blight a star

and it stuck to us like a garrote of rose, like clothes

so small as to be invisible, to hardly even qualify

as a hose repurposed for valorous arrogation 

no matter where we looked there was water

we shot dope and talked oulipo


Alex Tretbar is the author of the chapbook Kansas City Gothic (Broken Sleep, 2025). As a Writers for Readers Fellow with the Kansas City Public Library, he teaches free writing classes to the community. His poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Kenyon Review, Narrative, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. He is a poetry editor for Bear Review.


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