Did you see
the five-year-old little girl
joking, dancing and happy?
They punished her for laughing

“Class clown”, teachers whisper
Mrs. Gray shoves her in an office
Clutching the girl’s tiny throat against the wall—choking her
She’s crying
Her scared kicking feet can’t reach the floor

I’m dying!
I’m dying!

Little girl thinks
imagining a hero storming in
saving her just in time

No one comes
No one cares

“Shut up, little baby!” Gray says,
threatening to cut her long black hair

Little girl claws at Gray’s aged fingers
littered with gold bands
banging the girl’s head hard
against the bulletin board

“Nothing happened…
You hear?”
Mrs. Gray warns her after


Little girl knew otherwise

Every day Gray kept an eye
Her daughter, Mrs. Murphy, did too
“She’s a little liar”, they tell the girl’s guardian, smiling when questioned

Unfortunately, there are no cameras

So, little girl watches the teachers
remembering every word they spit
every wrinkle on their face
the sins they try to erase

Little girl invokes her own dark thoughts
pulled from anger at her core
boiling with an inescapable madness
she never felt before

from little girl’s lips

She doesn’t understand the meaning

Yet every naptime she says it,
watching them both,
whispering quick
seeing through the smoke
they purposely blew on the girl
five days a week
laying on a cot, Murphy strategically placed
in front of daytime TV
while she and Gray watch soaps

It’s naptime
but little girl inhales nicotine
knowing one day,
they’ll see

Mrs. Murphy
Mrs. Gray
did you hear?

That little girl grew up,
she didn’t forget

Mrs. Murphy
Mrs. Gray
do you see?

That little girl from your past,
traveled to your hospital beds
listening to your ragged breaths

“I’m an old friend that cares.”
She lies to your kind family
Welcome in
Blah Blah

They confirm the cancer is killing you
from all the smoke you consumed

You’re dying.
The woman knows

She waits amongst your blood
as the white sheet covers you

Mrs. Murphy
Mrs. Gray
you rotted, baby!


A woman happy and laughing

Her soul breathes free

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