'lullaby, after the dark side' / 'later...' / 'sea-sweet'

Photo: "Finding Myself" by Lynne Schmidt

lullaby, after the dark side


my palms still remember

the bridge-railings of every playground structure,

how to find the pockets of eternity

dug into transition-phase. heartbeats here

flutter skin-thin as eggshell membrane

clinging to the concave curve of your mouth.

the countdown till the next time i saw you

went a little like this: window screen, creaking frame,

shingles dull in the streetlamp light.

you used to shy under the roof at the sight of me

like a child nightmare-struck

until i promised i wasn’t running

away. in your shadow

the boneyard of the sidewalk

gleamed photonegative,

young tree skeletons spaced even between

the bird bodies entombed in the snow.

i wanted to tell you

i haven’t seen you smile like that

in years. wanted to apologize

for not looking. for how i spun you divine

into swanglide grace & moonsilk cloak,

dreamed you floating, glowing,



prayed away a name all soft & featherdown

last night, cracked it open

into sliptongue springtime rain

dimming the sheen of cradled snow.

said forgive me until the words

whittled themselves down to stoneshard splinter,

over & over, the whisper of eavesdropper wings

asking if that was what i wanted

carved on my gravestone one day. desire

comes in shades of white light,

honest & merciless. instead of submission

i watch you play voyeur

to everyone else’s heartbreak

before your own.


summer is spent salting the roads

with the ghost-boned aftertaste

of failure, preparing

for next year’s iceslick. it’s a way of saying

you’ll still be around by then.

you tell me about the birds

you reburied in moonwash

after last year’s thaw, your glow

painted across shadow

& stillness. in certain lights

this could be a tragedy. in others

it’s only a child’s love. in moonlight

it was never anything at all.

~ Quinn Lui

later, i’ll smash my phone screen & we’ll almost miss our train

but for now we go grocery shopping & manage not to get lost

on a day so hot the mirages curl off the street & halo us all

in smoky light. when we get back i finish half a box of cereal

in one sitting & all anyone says is well, guess we should

get more of that. i plait tiny braids in brown-black hair. slip

tiny flowers into them. fingers trace the line of a double rainbow

as it loops through the clouds: this was meant to happen,

don’t you see? disney music plays on repeat in the furnace-heat

of an airless room & we have movie nights with all of us

tucked onto the same sagging futon, sweat-slick vinyl sucking

at bare skin. would you walk away from someone you loved

if it meant you both could live forever? & maybe my old answer

would have been yes. but now love is two a.m. texts saying

i can see your lights on, go to sleep. two p.m. texts saying come over,

we’re all napping together. sitting cross-legged on a desk

because there’s no space anywhere else & what’s your deepest

darkest secret? love is how i don’t even think of not answering.

how we go grocery shopping with a wheeled suitcase so that

no one’s arms get too tired. on the way i pick so many wildflowers

i start making you hold them for me. there’s a picnic table outside

the store & there i weave daisies & maidenstears into long chains

before we head inside, crowned the royal court of the frozen-food aisle

in a city we only freshly named home. for now our faces are all

still kissed by firelight. i was a little bit scared of you at first but now

i don’t even remember why. love is holding hands on the subway

so we don’t get separated. sharing plates in chinatown. sharing

clothes that fit inexplicably. sharing clothes that don’t fit at all.

buying postcards for the people who couldn’t come along. buying

double, because what a small cost for a little more joy. we find a garden

where the asters are thick with bumblebees & in the half-light

everything looks as soft as they do. love is look at you, you’re

golden. a sunshine-smile, hands framing the world, the moment

cast rich as maple by summer-heavy air. losing track of money owed

by accident. losing track on purpose. there’s something ageless

about this gold-blushed way of living. how i know all this will dim

as it recedes into memory, but never quite fade completely.

the night before we left, the curfew lifted for the only time

all month, but we all stayed right here & called it home

until the last moment it was ours.

~ Quinn Lui

~ Quinn Lui


Quinn Lui is a Chinese-Canadian student whose work has appeared in Occulum, Synaesthesia Magazine, Half Mystic, and elsewhere. They are the author of the micro-chapbook teething season for new skin (L’Éphémère Review, 2018) and can easily be bribed by soup dumplings or pictures of bees. You can find them @flowercryptid on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram, or wherever the moon is brightest.

Lynne Schmidt is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West Publishing, Spring 2020), and Dead Dog Poems (Bottlecap Press, Summer 2020). She is a mental health professional in Maine and the founder of AbortionChat. Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor's Choice Award, Honorable Mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively.

Lynne is a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and when given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

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