Killing the Leaves by Brooke McKinney


I don’t guess I’ll ever get over that child saving me from becoming a pile of meat
and blood. The streets covered in urine and blood, anyway.

You’d think these roads were nothing but remains of humans once in love. I wrote
notes on the back of cigarettes and coined a new term for help—please.

The trees were dying quicker than we were, spraying for mosquitoes, killing
the leaves becoming lungs becoming leaves becoming stiff.

Now that I’m back home, I want to shoot my daddy, though his name isn’t Charlie.
I thank mama for having a stroke—saving me from the filth of the frontline.

Driving home sometimes, the sunset stands down behind the trees, bursting into a thousand
fires between those veins of branches, killing the leaves in the rearview mirror…

I hit the brakes. I yell, Ceasefire! Goddamn that sticker—Objects in mirror are closer
than they appear.


BROOKE McKINNEY is a writer living in Roanoke, Virginia, with her loyal friend Max, a bulldog she has lived and traveled with for over a decade and who has endowed her with a greater understanding of love and survival. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Appalachee Review, The Southeast Review, Columbia Poetry Review, and Artemis.