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Published January 24, 2017
Wax Poetry and Art: "The Eight" by Ayame Whitfield (7th Place)
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The Eight

by Ayame Whitfield

mercury: hot and swift,
the beating heart of a gazelle,
fire sign under blazing sky. the boy
in the back of the classroom who
laughs at the wrong moments,
props his feet up
on the back of chairs --
and the nightly frozen over heart
when he goes home to empty windows
and shattered plates.

venus: viciously beautiful,
but this girl is not the corridor bully,
the haughty queen of the social scene.
eyeliner sweeps and smeared lipstick
mask the pounding pain
behind closed doors. the boyfriend
who put his hands in the wrong places,
who left her heart a volcano
spewing carbon dioxide
to the toxic choked sky.

mars: cold red anger
blazing across the evening sky,
a ruin in the dusk calm.
he struggles to sit still, fingers twitching
and heart racing, the pills he takes
every morning only enough
to blur the edges of the world,
the thin smear of atmosphere
only enough to make him choke.

jupiter: bigger is better, but
he sits in the football locker room
with his helmet in his hands
and tries to imagine the look
on his mother’s face when he brings home
his boyfriend. he can tackle
any quarterback, but cannot
put into words the way a soft hand
paints his entire world in swirls
of color, a thousand-year storm
centered right over his ribcage.

saturn: shining jewel in the night,
bright and ringed with ice and stone.
she does not laugh anymore.
prozac, zoloft, the thin tablets
lined up in a row, a deficiency
in sunlight, in serotonin, in something
integral to her. amygdala, hypothalamus.
she wonders if the far away sun
can explain what has frozen her heart over.

uranus: odd one out.
crooked spine, but strong hands.
he wheels himself to the studio
every morning, and slender fingers
take flight across the canvas,
cool greens and the solitary blue
of the sky catching in his eyes.
nothing chained to the ground
under his brush.

neptune: outer reaches,
too small to explain the gravity
a sinkwell around her, too big
to hide in herself. the mirror is
a frozen lake, cracked from storms
of ice and terror. electromagnetic
winds tearing her from top to bottom,
an axis of despair.

pluto: small, distant--
they tell her she is not a real girl,
a doctor’s diagnosis on birth certificates
heavier than the conviction inside
that she is more, that she is real,
that the brittle bones of dry ice
do not shatter under her self-knowledge.
is afraid the distance between where she is
and where she wants to be
is a direct inverse
of how incredibly small she feels
when someone calls her by the wrong name.

My name is Ayame Whitfield, and I live in Massachusetts. I have loved
reading and writing from a very young age, and both are large parts of my
life. I can be found online at

Cover image credit:
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Wax Poetry and Art Contests
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Poetry Contest #11 Results
1. Tanis
2. The Wake
3. Atrocious War
4. Old World Sand Boa
5. Dyspraxia
6. Sanctuary
7. The Eight
8. Glacier d’Argentière
9. Reviving Lives
10. Ketu
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