Tara Betts


The last ink we shared was blood
running down, through my keys
meandering between bits of brain
and skull, even I never saw the killer
who left my writing partner like
a wasted ellipsis…

sprawled across my splattered
last page. I only heard a click.
The safety off. His hand punch-
ing the letter “P” on white paper
rolled over the platen, round as
the “O” of a last gasp he stifled,
resolute as a sharp “P” he struck

before he thudded a numb heavy
mass against me. I only heard
the clacking as if it was me
magnified to thunderclap.


Oversized glass candy jar, lid intact.
Matchboxes and matchbooks inside,
embossed with colors and cities, varied
as stray nights in restaurants and bars.

You—a box to open, a cover to flick
between my fingers. Confident spark,
you speak wattage and Fahrenheit without
noticing. I’d collect boxes of you at hotels,

off counters, from fishbowls, if I could.
You strip of combusting grit, whose
press and drag jumps, dips me in red
phosphorus, flashes me to a charred

wooden bone that needs more than latent
flares displayed on a high shelf, tart
covers like candy hinting at sugary heat.
The tails of smoke waver, incomplete.


Tara Betts is the author of Arc & Hue and chapbook/libretto THE GREATEST: An Homage to Muhammad Ali. Tara is a Ph.D. candidate at SUNY Binghamton University. Her poems have appeared in Ninth Letter, Court Green, Crab Orchard Review, and several other journals and anthologies.