Kourtni Halsey

Hands and Feet | Madeline Barnhill | Graphite

  1. on the side of the highway

there was an unattended bonfire

spitting smoke into the otherwise clear sky


and the scent invaded the car through

the vents and the sliver of open window.

it stayed there for miles until you drove

past a farm and the bitter, manure scent of the earth

drove it away.


  1. his lips dripped from the rain that extinguished

his cigarette and his hair was windswept. he chuckled

an apology and shrugged off his jacket.


when he kissed you, he tasted like smoke.


  1. you color your eyelids with ashes every morning

and your lips with pomegranate, then tousle your hair

into a hasty side-part to seem uncaring and above it all.


the girl standing next to you on the train has eyes the

color of a polluted sky and she outlines them in smoke

just like you. you want to compliment her on her winged

eyeliner but she pulls out a book and loses herself in it.


  1. the crisp crack of a stricken match echoes in the

empty room and flame teases your fingertips while

you hold it to the wick and wait for it to light.


the hiss of smoke billows outward in an ominous cloud

and you wave your hand to dispel it; the candle catches

fire silently and you extinguish the match with a puff of air.


  1. you sit in a circle around a fire pit with your family

and watch your words dance through the frigid air above your head.

the smoke chases you as you shift around the fire to avoid it, filling

your eyes with tears and tickling a cough from your throat


you feel it hit you in a wave of warmth against the chill of autumn

but it has less substance than you’d think. it doesn’t touch you like

water vapor, but it glances across your skin in a dangerous way

and then disappears back into the flame that woke it.