“Saint Cecilia,” stained glass, artist and date unknown.

by Kate Nezelek

This is the skeleton
of a different poem.
This is the fallen, breaking
ourselves over
like the wooden sticks
we once worried into crosses
so long ago.

We will swallow it all
smile, mouth full of razors
This is gallows humor.

Watch as we try
to drown
our sins in bottles
of altar wine.
Intertwine our empty
hands, shred our
fists through stained glass.
Our palms haven’t opened
for the spines of
Bibles in so long.
We smoke our insides black
and laugh, spitting blasphemy.
It rolls so much more easily
off our tongues
than a promise of God.

Slink the streets,
the wings
behind our backs
a secret
tucked beneath each
grimy feather.
The anatomy of
our albatross leaves us

change into the hands
of another refugee, give
what we can.
we are both living
ruins of some past valor.

Ours is the unmaking,
the ashes of
a phoenix rising,
a forgotten cigarette.
The tremble
of any broken thing.

Oh Hero, Oh Glory
take warning: this
is the final Vision.
We are the story


Kate Nezelek is studying the art of English literature at Rice University, where she is also a Division 1 athlete. She was honored with the Hollins University Book Award, and has performed her work at a TedxYouth event in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia.