Trauma Mama

I thought our car’s interior
was made of blue velvet
I felt bad to rub snot into
ridges from under my fingernail

I remember, look left
then up at all those
pinned-up black curls
Aren’t you embarrassed?

You are a reflection of me.
Crying looks bad

It makes me look bad.

no, I misunderstood
then there was felt
potholes dissipating
asphalt ran under us

last summer I let a
boy break my heart
and he should’ve or
I wanted it, outside

I waited for a friend
outside a nail salon
when she came to ask
how I was I cried

on a sidewalk in queens
between her elbows until
I could not embarrass
her or me anymore – but

we stayed facing away from
but next to each other like
statues pointed at pigeons
she reassured she couldn’t

see my face – we laughed
I never told her about my
thoughts on dark colored
fabrics or about my small

town indiana road erosion
but she is from indianapolis
and knows primary colors
are a terrible lacquer choice

KRISTINE ESSER SLENTZ is a Maltese descendent, queer, cult escapee, and author of woman, depose (FlowerSong Press 2021, 2024). She grew up in northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area—what her father calls the ‘bottom of the blue-collar.’ After receiving her GED, she completed her undergraduate degree at Purdue University, double-majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing, before earning a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (poetry) from City College of New York (CCNY). She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at CCNY, among other places. KRISTINE is a Pushcart Prize nominee, finalist in the Glass Poetry Chapbook and F(r)iction’s Flash Fiction Contests, recipient of a CCNY English Department Teacher-Writer Award, a City Artist Corps Grant, and former Rifkind Fellow and Poets Afloat resident. She has displayed artwork in exhibits at the 5547 Project and recently in Pride & Joy at the Athenaeum Indy. She is the co-founder and organizer/host of the monthly experimental artist series, Adverse Abstraction, in New York City’s East Village. You can follow KRISTINE’s art on her substack, Carnations & Car Crashes

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