» Poetry

Witness to a chain of bursting

balloons filled with chirping finches.

I liked to make things up in the dark, bright


yarn spider webs, name your electric

mood disease a super-power. Instead,


the nightmare of your mania:

constant smell of burning feathers,


last year’s untouched dinners. A ghost

now buried in moss, now gone for days


in the snow, coked up and knocked up,

your exquisite moth chocolate eyes,


mimesis of a child who was a little prone

to trouble. I could hardly remember you.


I learned to sow the medicine, delicate,

and learned how someone doesn’t die


but fragments into hydra,

rakshasa or Ophelia,


minister of mystic meth-trips

down the silver-tunnels of the soul.


Sister, the day you walked out of

the labyrinth and into the kitchen


was not a day, but years of impossible

breakfasts. We used to joke about


you breaking dishes. What marvel

made apocalypse stormed through


you, what storm always in you,

what storm you



Ambalila Hemsell

Ambalila Hemsell is a writer, musician, and educator from Colorado. She holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. She was a 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence at InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit. Her poetry can be found in RipRap Literary Journal and Virga, and is forthcoming in Ruminate and The American Literary Review.