• Em Cully

The 619

Graffiti on brick walls,

24 hour liquor marts, dispensaries next to starbucks, gum hardened on sidewalk curbs, abuelas tending rose gardens, skateboard rails,

Skateboard rails I walk past now. I see them and see Anthony and Josh after

a day of wandering around the mall because we had no money.

Times have changed. I have steady money, Josh has a baby

Anthony has a drug addiction. Sometimes we still meet at skateboard rails

graffiti on chain link fences,

church services in multiple languages, the arcade pizza shop, the smell of salt water during high tide, muscle cars under black tarps, stray cats with pieces of their ears missing, taco shops, vape shops,

I was seventeen the first time I vaped

Hoped my mom would mistake the espresso nicotine for body spray

Lorraine promised she’d bring me more puff bars from Arizona

She taught me how to blow O’s going down the 5 south

graffiti on wooden fences,

plastic pools from Kmart, the Pretty Kitty, public school, catholic school, police dogs,the feel of gravel in palms while learning to skateboard, walking to the mall after school,

My first date was at Plaza bonita mall

We saw some movie with Vin Diesel and I dropped a kit kat on his lap

He carried my purse around for me

His friend made me laugh more than he did so we didn’t last

graffiti on cement walls,

police helicopters, homeless encampments, the movie theater we would sneak food into, pitbulls derailed by chains, elotes, the burning of Vicks under noses during cold season,

My mom would act like she hated me sleeping with her

I would waddle in with my footie pajamas, snotty and congested

She said I used to kick her in my sleep

If I close my eyes I can still smell the Vicks

graffiti on sewer walls,

plastic lawn chairs on brown grass, smoking weed in mall parking lot at 1am, trolley bells waking my mother up at 4am every morning for years till she became numb to the constant reminder of early risers, jumpers at every birthday party, the taste of a Corona on my underage tongue, empty piñata shells,

If going for pinata candy was an Olympic sport,

I’d have a gold medal

I was usually bigger than the other kids so that helped

My favorites were the Laffy Taffy’s with the jokes on them

graffiti on gym doors,

potholes that will never get filled, high schoolers walking laps through weeds, police driving by slowly, dead possums in the road, bass vibrations rattling the windows, spiderman impersonators, shoes hanging from telephone wires, flickering streetlights,

I had my second kiss under a flickering streetlight

It was in the front seat of my SUV

It smelled like McDonald’s and salt water

I was high with sand behind my ears, I never saw him again.

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