days piled up with joint ash, clouding my head,
as she captured seasonal rains
inside the white frame
of a Polaroid picture. sometimes the exposure
developed a ghost, a little blotch
like a flame in slow burn; we called it a side effect.

when our words couldn’t weather
the cellular static, i tried stone skipping across clear skies
but the rippling never quit. as the rain dropped
in late autumn, she gave me a whistle
carved from crow bone
and promised the storm
drenched streetlight was our sun. shivering awake

under my bed, again and again, drowning
between her inhale and my exhale, i burned those bones
with the morning stars
in a haze of frankincense & prayer: smoke waning,
a silver mist, glittering. she vanished
into the wind without a word.

these days, i dust my room ritually, whispering
names i can’t place, in search
of a joint we never shared—only photographs. the flicker
of light that left us exposed, singed;
echoing down the hall, a tea kettle whistles.



Justin Groppuso-Cook is working on his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University. His studies include: English with a concentration in Creative Writing, the American Indian Studies Program (AISP), and the Residential College in the Arts & Humanities (RCAH). He is a contributing writer for the blog Bonus Cut, which focuses on art, education, and activism within Michigan's hip-hop community.