TWO Poems

by Jessica Mehta

“City Life Going By” by  Allen Forrest

“City Life Going By” by Allen Forrest


My childhood street began to devour itself
long before the restaurant in the field
exploded and the flames lapped up everything
except the blackberry bushes. By the time
my mother was arrested
for driving into a ditch, breath steaming
with vodka, the claws of the dying road
had given up on me, satisfied
with the web of scars
stitched up and down my arms
while I did nothing, nothing
but wonder at my ability
to never go back.

Mark’s Tumor (When I Needed it Most)

“How quickly this life does go by.” Tonight
I wrote the last letters
to my poetry students. It’s always been hard,
dishing out compliments (unless I really,
really mean it). My mother died
halfway through the class, a term
dedicated to confession and yoking
sadness from fingertips. Tell me
your best sad secret. Write the love
letter you never sent, the one that hissed
a papercut into your flagina so you took
it as an omen. How do I rank choice
of line breaks and liberties
with pantoums while my mother burns
at 1,800 degrees? Tell the octogenarian
that his piece on alpaca butter is shit
or the Iowa dropout I should be the one
at his feet? You don’t, but the dead

are furtive messengers. The banker
sent it privately, a poem he’d been too shy
or wise to workshop
into neat numbness. He likened
his tumor to a peach beyond burst,
skin sloughing off like summer tans—and us,
our ridiculous grasping
of it all when in the end, “How quickly,

how quickly this life does go by.”


Jessica Mehta is a multi-award-winning poet and novelist. She’s a member of the Cherokee Nation, a fellow at Halcyon Arts Lab in Washington DC, and currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Exeter in England. Jessica created the antipode form of poetry and is in the midst of several projects blending poetry with social justice and research. Find out more at