Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 41
Summer Solstice, 2021

Featured artwork, What Might Have Been Here Before 2, by Edward Lee

Featured Digital Poem
New Works

Joyce Liu

How to Construct a Breakup Poem


step one. gently ease the raw meat of your heart out of your chest cavity and plate it. smear a spoonful of sauce along the edge. put it on the windowsill, in the garage, by the front door, somewhere the reek of it will attract your predator-prey, and wait for the Boy to come at night like a semi-feral cat and drag it away. it will always be a Boy because you don't know how to give the pieces of yourself to someone who looks too much like you, because when you see yourself in the mirror every morning you get a little scared of who looks back.

step two. wait for it to hurt. we all have claws, all have teeth, we're just looking for someone to use them on and you've already made yourself the offering. sit on the front porch and watch your Boy hold your own heart up to your face as if asking for permission. do not nod; you don't need to. you can curl your toes inside your dirty white sneakers when he bites but you can't make a sound. when you go back inside and smile at your mother, you will notice a spot of blood on your shoes that you scrub and scrub for hours the next day, summer sun baking your open, untouched back.

step three. do it again. and again. and again. every day, another morsel for him to feed on. every day, another bloodstain you try to hide. you want to be devoured as badly as he wants to be full but neither of you can commit to it. he doesn't need to come around anymore and you don't need to wait for him on the porch but there's something you like about the way his teeth sink into your body, the way he leaves looking like a child in a strawberry field and not an animal you can't control. it's a writing prompt, it's an anecdote, it's a story you get to colour all the sad indie songs with as you wander around the wetlands in your dirty shoes.

step four. the pieces of the poem will appear to you like stones on a beach. you pick one up in the shower, another from the riverbank, a third in the creaky drawer of your desk. you roll the words around in your mouth, murmur them as you wash your face, chant them at the ducks and watch them fly away. there's no need to push it. one night you'll sit upright in bed and the lines will fit together in front of you like a winning chess game. until then, you collect the pieces of it all, dust and moss and granite, and wait.

step five. here, the line about his shoes. at the top, something he said to you that you wrote down the moment he hung up. add a snide remark near the end about his choice of keyboard, his glasses, his girl of the month, his handwriting, his smile. reference a moment nobody else witnessed, hack a corner off the polaroids and paste it in as metaphor. turn the details into symbolism, paper trains on a desk now a desire for escape, broken earbuds now foreshadowing how it'll end. a poem is just an emotional x-ray and you're about to make the world your doctor.

step six. print the poem. hold the fresh sheet and try to take the heat into your thawing hands. put it down on the dining room table, fold it down the middle again and again. what is all this but ink on a page, a funky pattern for your new paper airplane. wrench the window handle so hard the ice sealing it closed cracks open. drop the page out the window and watch the wind carry it away to someone who will want to read it.

step seven. slice your chest open and do it again.


Joyce Liu is a teenage poet from Ottawa, Canada. When she's not writing she can be found taking long walks in the woods and watching Formula 1 races. More of her work can be found in released and upcoming issues of perhappened mag, FEED and Burning Jade Literary and Arts Magazine.