schizoaffective in spring

They are just hedging
their bets, these skeletons
dressed in skin, and false
who look into your head
with nothing but the
where eyes should sit.

First they tell you you are
the wasted stamp on a
dead letter, the flick of ash
from a menthol cigarette,
a droplet of semen from
the ground beneath
the gallows.

Then they say you are
the rattle of matches, a
stingray’s barb,
the air under the canopy
of the parachute.

They pound you
until they are done,
roll off then
kiss you passionately

call you later
to deliver
the sucker punch
kiss you again
on your bloodied mouth
their long black tongues
reaching you
down the line.


the fact—

it remains
everybody & no one knows it
it’s not a buck each way,
a roll of the dice
it’s not a friendly Labrador
or your four leaf clover.

You are just
molecules erasing
a collection of
moments & dust,
a melted bullet,
an empty cartridge,
the point at which
the day starts

& everybody knows
that you are just
phoning it in

until that hour
it all gives way

until your bones
start burning.

Jo McNeice has an MA in creative writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters. Her work has been published in Sport, JAAM, Turbine | Kapohau, and Mayhem. She won the 2023 Kathleen Grattan Award, and her first book, Blue Hour, will be published in 2024 by Otago University Press.