Coming Clean

From EAST COAST BLUES via Bottlecap Press (2022)

Coming Clean
Photo by Jason Leung / Unsplash

by Ashley Wagner

Selected by Elia Karra

“I feel like Hilary Duff.”

She stretches her arms up
toward the cloud-blotted heavens
at the first crash of lightning
like the silver of cymbals struck to rocking.
She’s inviting the rain in a 2004-
sugar-pop sort of way: she wants
to be cleansed. We spot goldfish
and cats in the breaks of the clouds
before they close. We bemoan
trash day, the splintered steps
down to the alley. We whisper
about the mayor, the million-
dollar police copters, the green cherry
lights of campus cops, Hogan’s pet project
presidential run. We wonder
how close that shot was. We wonder
how many red lights
the cops will run. We smile
at the first drops of rain, retreat
inside. We forget
the trash.

Ashley Wagner (she/her) is a queer writer, reader, and roller-skater haunting Baltimore. Her debut chapbook, EAST COAST BLUES, is out now from Bottlecap Press. She is the poetry editor for Ligeia Magazine. You can find her work at