3. September. “Packrats” by Lisa Torem

Of course I buried my Alice Cooper chewing gum wrapper collection in a James Dean lunch box I fever pitch bargained for in Wicker Park.

“You don’t need this, do you?”

He cupped the flimsy papers in his sweaty fist and headed towards the dumpster.


I pressed a frozen pigeon feather abandoned on Foster Beach between the pages of my mum’s yearbook photographs,

And plastered the spine with burlap-sack ribbons.

Beneath the late night circles of her sea-green eyes, I glue-stuck shards of Venetian glass from my great-aunt’s bargain basement lava lamp.

“Why can’t you save the world?” he cursed, narrowing his charcoal eye-slits. “Packrat!”

I scribble-scrawled his name with burning coals over sidewalk-chalked cement, scraping his initials with baby sister’s paper clip chains.

Pitch what I crave? Packrat. Destroy what I long for? Packrat. Torch my bedrock resolutions?


That first wisp of snowy hair?

My milk-stained serape?

Our Polaroid romance?


Open your soda with this rusty knife.
Carve our cake with this jigsaw splice.
No one died from a messy life.
Save something
that brings us back.

That brings

us back.


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