The Last Time I Hung Out With Baby D and Them

The twins—

those grinning gangsters

never seen without chains

tethered around their necks

and wrists, hold gold guns

that glisten against the clever

silver sky.

Do you

want to hold one?

I grip

the grip and for a moment

I get deer hunting—that transition

from boy to man or even girl

to woman, like Latonia B. who

took the life of Mikey because she

wanted to see what it was like.


In Newark, we don’t bawl

over felled fawns or ferry home

trophies—we’ve figured out

how to run without the chase

or racetrack, how to turn off

our eyes, zipper our mouths,

and lose our memories. It is always

open season and our stars

are mere exhausted streetlights.


And here, Baby D’s hand strokes

my ass then settles for my lower

back as he whispers,

you got

to get more skin on the grip

to get rid of that sympathetic reflex

in your hands. You’ve got to hold

it tight to really see.

I place my

finger on the trigger

and shut my eyes. I pull. And I see.

How easy it is.


Sakinah Hofler is a PhD student and a Yates Fellow at the University of Cincinnati. In 2017, she won the Manchester Fiction Prize; previously she had been shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Eunoia Review, and Counterexample Poetics. A former chemical and quality engineer, she now spends her time teaching and writing fiction, screenplays, and poetry.