Kayla Sargeson

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Artwork by Gene McCormick

Head on a Shelf

I’m on three days no sleep and you
just want to talk about your new album:
Did you see it online? I’m putting it on vinyl, too.
Can’t talk long. It’s on my Bandcamp.

I remember the nights I spent listening to your fucking Bandcamp.
The same three albums over and over.
Here’s where that got me:
Yeah, I told you about my album release party!
It’s okay. I still love you.

I spent the morning wandering around
a warehouse in Warrendale full of cast-off props
from Netflix shows: vintage clock radios,
pillows, TVs.
Some woman pulled a mannequin head off a shelf, said:
I’ve always wanted to put a mannequin head in a suitcase,
just to say I have a head in a suitcase.

You don’t care about my morning,
don’t ask about my week.
You’re 40 years old, still living with your mother,
never going to be famous:
It’s okay. I still love you.
Your four words/thirteen letters
sour the morning’s avocado toast.

Star Babies
for Brent

Do you remember that August we spent stoned
on your Uptown deck that looked right into the window
of the guy who lived across the alley, who we’d watch
shower at night, his muscled silhouette turning us both on?
Look at my hard on
you said or maybe didn’t say,
but we have the kind of relationship where I’d look.
That month you made peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches
for lunch and I cancelled therapy appointment after therapy appointment
and we tried to cure our boredom with B-horror movies
and trips to the Hollywood Beach.
I stole your white sunglasses and ran into the water.
A guy with the biggest cock imprint I’ve ever seen
yelled out to me: Honey, you’re a star

Artwork by Gene McCormick

¾after D.A. Powell

Noon, watching Pittsburgh move.
In the past year, three new businesses
came to East Carson Street.
Two left.
The man who loved me is still dead.
His mother takes me into her arms and cries.
My therapist says I’m making progress.
There’s a hole in the bottom of my stomach
I can’t fill with the beautiful man who came in my throat
last Wednesday. He kissed me before I left.
I go to the one business left—True Value Hardware
and Sean has a box of my favorite chocolate donuts.
The sky darkens.
Frankie comes in for another gallon of white paint.
I get caught in the rain
and almost love the wetness.


Kayla Sargeson is the author of the full-length collection First Red (Main Street Rag, 2016) and the chapbooks BLAZE (Main Street Rag, 2015) and Mini Love Gun (Main Street Rag, 2013). With Lisa Alexander, she co-curates the Laser Cat reading series. Sargeson lives in Pittsburgh where she teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University and the Community College of Allegheny County.