1. June-ish.

We drove by William S. Burroughs’s house

to see if we could feel his

aura from the street. We were confused about

why he lived in Kansas, of all places—

because we’d only ever prayed to leave it.

 

I was young and dumb and didn’t know

half the story behind this cynosure

who looked like my grandpa.

But I knew how I felt after reading Naked Lunch:

Stoned, mostly. And a bit revolted.

 

You, though, were smitten

with the wasteland of his words.

Obsessed, really—

keeping his books, dog-eared and disguised

from your mother’s eyes (or so you thought).

 

I watched you leave Kansas as a

high school dropout turned

stripper turned

drug addict turned

prostitute.

And I started to wonder where it all

went wrong.

 

I ran into your mom at the store a while back.

Through tears, she claimed it was those

damn books.

 

I thought back to your childhood:

No dad.

No sugar.

No skirts.

No boys.

No fun.

No anything.

Except taking care of your little brother

while your mom got tanked.

 

So I said to her,

“I don’t think it was the books.”

 

Erika Seshadri

Erika Seshadri lives on an animal rescue ranch with her family. When not caring for tame ritters or feral children, she can be found writing.

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