The God of Matches – Torii Johnson

He lit his cigarette on his mother’s light and ashed
in all her fine china. Dressed in leather with girls’
names pinned to his walls, wondering
which to call home. Always stringing together words
that didn’t fit his pretty mouth just right.
There’s a fight in him, but he is not a god of war,
so the fight has its way where it is. Has its way with boy—
Boy that fixed the doorframe with a nail
and a screwdriver, uses book as bedside table.
Boy that wraps hands around whatever is nearest and
always remembers what a good woman is for.
Do your insides boil at night?
Do you eat the flames?                           He does.
Sacrifices himself for himself to himself.

Even the immortal are supposed to grow up.
There were two women and a little girl in the house
and he still didn’t get the picture, he still left
the door open when he pissed.
Used golden-edged pieces of paper from his bible
to roll joints because it looked
Did you know, he once flew by way of car?
Always quick feet to the tobacco store,
and he was never one to look both ways.
Fixed his pretty eyes on the asphalt
right after the fall. Have you seen his wings?
They are leather and get caught in the wind.

Now he wraps fingers round empty picture frames.
Still cups the flame like a love.
Eat it for breakfast, puke it up at night,
grind teeth into chalky white, repeat.

There were four hours left in his probation
when he skipped town to Florida, killed
his daddy’s car on the way and had to
hitch hike back like the poor
child he was.

Torii Johnson studies Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies and English at Wesleyan University. She’s a Mississippi transplant that loves to get in fights about low-income issues and whether or not femininity is inherently oppressive. In the past, she’s contributed to Helloflo, and has been featured on Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Femsplain, Vagabond City Lit, and The Fem. She spends her time taking too many reading-intensive classes, working in publicity at the Wesleyan University Press, pretending to be funny on twitter, and trying to pet every dog she sees. Here’s her personal website.

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