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At Fifteen

I measured time in cigarettes.
Underneath the underpass
I popped reds
and dropped blues
next to sucked off Popsicle sticks.
I straddled the concrete curb
and anointed the night with love.
I was alive—
snorting coke in abandoned homes
where pigeon shit painted the floor white.
I ripped off loose wood and climbed
to the top of the roof.
I wanted to feel the air
against my cheeks and fuck.
I wanted to break in half.
Fold like heaven and hell.
I was at war with myself.
At fifteen, I hummed paradise,
became those streets that tied
into other streets,
became my own country.
How I talked.
I could’ve been anyone.
I was incurable.

Loren Kleinman‘s poetry has appeared in journals such as Nimrod, Wilderness House Literary Review, Paterson Literary Review, Narrative Northeast and New Jersey Poets. Her interviews appeared in IndieReader, USA Today and The Huffington Post. She is the author of Flamenco Sketches and Indie Authors Naked, which was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller in Journalism in the UK and USA. Her second poetry collection The Dark Cage Between My Ribs releases March 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing). She is currently working on a literary romance novel, This Way to Forever. She also runs an author interview series on The Huffington Post Books community blogs vertical. Loren’s website is: She can also be found twittering @LorenKleinman.




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Dawn Leas's poems and book reviews have appeared in print and online, and her chapbook, I Know When to Keep Quiet (Finishing Line Press, 2010), is available in print and Kindle versions. In past lives she was a copywriter, freelancer, admissions director and middle-school English teacher. Currently, she is the associate director of the Wilkes University M.A./M.F.A. Creative Writing programs and a contributing editor at Poets' Quarterly. Follow her on Twitter @DawnLeas and visit

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  • Ross McPherson March 24, 2014, 10:10 pm

    You got me with this one the moment you straddled the curb. A raw experience but with a vagrant’s discipline, finding the right spots to lie down and light up. You lost me just a little bit after you became your own country, guttering out in short sentences, the vagrant’s shuffle, I suppose, but leaving me feeling a bit disconnected from your meaning. But I am old fashioned. I would have rung your mum and told her to come and collect you.

  • Von Rupert March 26, 2014, 10:12 am

    Really powerful writing. I love the simplicity of the language–it’s raw, vivid, and approachable.

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