the haunted bathroom

poems by Rebecca Kokitus

the haunted bathroom

I want to be young like
sugar and hard liquor
like freshman year of college
pink lemonade vodka choked down
young like candy stomachache
like being carried to bed with a sunburn 

I want to enjoy summer
but it just feels like a broken promise

I remember being seven or eight
and trying on doll clothes
foreshadowing an adolescence obsessed
with smallness and girlhood 

sometimes I feel like I’m still some
mismatched ugly child
round cheeks and pointed chin
hair like dead grass
hair like dehydrated urine 

cheap purple eyeshadow
applied in the same school bathroom
where my friend showed where
she cut her wrist 

just things twelve-year-old girls do 

once I found a toilet with
the water stained red and was
convinced the bathroom was haunted
convinced I saw long hair
coming down through the vent like
spider silk 

but when I started my period I understood 

but that bathroom was still haunted
by the wet piggy bank and spoiled milk smells
of that graceless purgatory
I never quite escaped
between girlhood and womanhood

hatchling

hatchling, waiting
for regurgitated love
like salted slug guts 

teething, drooling
tongue out in
perpetual likeness of
licking ice cream droplets
from waffle cone 

love the way I cry
when I gag, perpetual
fantasy of you
licking black mascara tears
from my face 

trickle, fickle spittle, 
like rain that can’t decide
if it wants to fall
and I look up at the sky,
mouth open. 

INDEPENDENCE DAY

bomb pop, saliva and sugar
blood red and vicodin white
boardwalk sky, drowned mouth blue
pass out, swab throat with
popsicle stick
probe for sick 

cherry bomb, jolt awake
forest fire in your gut
holiday freak accident
hipbones like mountains
catching the gunshot wound crack
of the fireworks, 
stretching it like bubblegum
into faraway thunder 

more red and more white
can’t tell the difference between
storm and celebration
beyond the bedroom window
can’t tell the difference between
myself and the rest of it
with watermelon sugar between my thighs
and the fire melting my bones like
plastic 

my father used to warn me
about swallowing the pits of fruit
told me a cherry tree would grow in my belly
cherry falls out of me in the shower
hits the tub with a smack
and disappears down the drain 

ask me about freedom and
I’ll tell you about a crime scene
with stolen narcotics and
blood on the carpet 

I’ll tell you about sticking a
flagpole in my flesh, 
and declaring myself
my own. 

the wake 

the seam of my body, 
the stitches torn free 

smells like death in July
like black mold and rot 

bloody cotton smells like
roadkill on the interstate, like
rotten cherry on asphalt 

pull tampon from its sheath
like mangled mouse from
cat’s jaws and flush it away 

because it feels wrong
to throw a corpse
in the garbage 

because I keep imaging
the teething nocturnal things

drawn like a fox
to a robin’s nest


Rebecca Kokitus is a poet residing in the Philadelphia area. She is a student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she studies English with a concentration in Writing. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in over a dozen literary journals, most recently in Rhythm & Bones, Horny Poetry Review and {isacoustic*}. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram and @rxbxcca_anna, and you can read more of her writing on her website.

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