Let heaven be a tune that belongs
            to an eighteen-year-old boy who has never
                        had his own room—until now.  He doesn’t

even know himself well enough to decorate.
            Comic books scatter the floor like neon
                        landmines: pow and kablam!  He’s been lighting

a scented candle a sad girl brought him.
            It smells of apples and dirty socks.
                        For the evening, there’s no war or civil

unrest, just two teenagers laying in
            a twin bed, a rowboat, or an island
                        of uncertainty.  This song, he says and

grabs her hand. It’s winter, his dad’s at work
            the dusk is closing one world for another.
                        His paw finds the small of her back and he

tries not to maul her.  Both lives shifting,
            their shadows are elongated notes
                        on a slick, wood floor.  He loses

and catches the rhythm, the bass guitar,
            the floating saxophone solo.  She knows this won’t last
                        but the fleeting hints of cinnamon and clove

keep bringing her back,
                        keep bringing her back,
                                                            to this shore.

Photo by Yehor Milohrodskyi on Unsplash

Sjohnna McCray

Sjohnna McCray's work has been published in several magazines, including Brilliant Corners, Chicago Quarterly Review, Gargoyle, The African American Review, Salamander and The Valparaiso Poetry Review. In 2015, he received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets.