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Sam Bailey


Here at the sink, shirt ditched, 

nipples puckered. The lightbulb blasting 


shame. The towel snuggled up with itself 


on top of the radiator. The wall, green– 

how I should I say it?–light 


like the Google Map of Delaware. 


The toothbrush dives through my lips, 

the bristles groove with my molars. 


There’s a reason to sanitize, 

I’ve got the mouthful 


of a believer. I’ve got a stars-worth 

of paste on my chin. I’ve made a promise 


to the minutes that I’ll be here for two. 

Me, here, scrubbing, wondering how long 


I’ll go on buying Colgate, go on choosing 

the fire of Max Fresh Mint. Fire? 


White fire. The smoke of 

the snow of Antarctica– 


don’t tell me you’re not worried 

for the eleven babies ever born there, 


with brains all sorts of bad probably 

from chugging chilled milk. 


Don’t tell me it didn’t hurt– 

that night I slapped an ice cube on my wrist. 


And held it there. With its tiny tears 

scurrying to my palm. My veins 


choked with blueberry jam. 

And mercy old news.

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Sam Bailey is a graduate student at the Harvard Divinity School. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Colorado Review, I-70 Review, and elsewhere.

Bear Review


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