by Kayla S., 14

I always hate the smell the alcohol

A pungence that makes my nose scrunch in disgust

Even the fruity tang couldn’t cover up the smell

A scent that fills the room in seconds

Next thing you know, the floor’s devoured in glass

And that fruity tang stained into the carpet

You were drunk when it happened, 

So why would you care?

That night, you told me I was worthless and unneeded

A failure to you that didn’t know how to function

A burden to you that never seemed to end

Someone you no longer wanted to love

The spilled fruity tang tried to shield your actions

But the alcoholic layer you use to excuse your words

Does not cover the sober filthy truth beneath it

Red Bank, New Jersey

Notes from our interns on selecting this piece: Wow! These ending lines stay with you long after the poem is finished. I love that this work starts by evoking a smell, the sense most strongly associated with memory, and uses these details to wind us back into a room where unspeakable things were said. Every word seems heartbreakingly and carefully chosen for the best impact.