Zero my origins of industrial winter,
my mug-shot of smoke.
Zero our factories, Kodak gone bankrupt.
Omit gloved hands in glinting chemical vats,
minus equations & patents.
Erase your pixelated face, mouth of wet vowels.
Erase chalk outlines, K-9’s, riots, & memory lines in my
rust-belt revival city,
Erase tracks of the Underground Railroad at 25 Main Street
where Frederick Douglass inked The North Star.
Cut cuffs from a radical in black taffeta,
our Susan B. Anthony arrested at the ballot.
Cut skin / state / cotton / lace.
Cut the water after the bread
& sugar skulls for the dead.
Zero the serial killer who lived at Hotel Cadillac,
moved near our old school,
delivered girls to the river.
Cut throat / slip tongue / wring neck / skin teeth.
Cut new glass for the voids
in my father’s jacked Ford.
Omit us, protest kids in the concrete forest, chanting:
No Blood for Oil!
Cut our school sentry named Flash,
a scar across his throat,
rasping his commands at the door
with walkie-talkie in one hand,
my brother in the other.
Cut class under overpass.
Cut my cracker-jack-ass.
Erase purchase of dime-bag at the Drive-Thru.
Omit the jingle, I’d rather be in Rochester, It’s got it!
Refrain my ex, of the high IQ, from doing junk at breakfast,
overloading his blood,
going cold at noon.
Omit twilight inside a blue glass jar,
minus a confetti of stars,
zero the moon Xeroxed on a pond,
undulant ghost on dark water.
Cut film to shreds, zero the Kodachrome,
insert megapixels & code like bright seeds.
Omit this pilgrimage back to my old room,
minus shrines of memorabilia,
minus all pre-digital selves.
Refrain from recollecting your lips, our collisions in bed,
tiny gongs in my nerves,
tidal waves of apples.
Zero the refrain, minus the song.
Willa Carroll won Narrative’s Third Annual Poetry Contest, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, placed as a semi-finalist for the “Discovery” / Boston Review Contest, and was awarded Bennington’s Liam Rector Scholarship. She’s published in Free State Review, Mary, Narrative, Tuesday; An Art Project, Stone Canoe, Structo, and Tin House.