love song for a friend

by Koss

  1. Lit up each time you flashed your heart-shaped mouth and skein of largish teeth, your skin was so creamy and your boyish jaw curved like another smile, or echo
  2. Tried to understand your streaming red and yellow environmental fabric art the university grounds crew ripped from the trees—I understood their meanness
  3. Impressed you made ten bucks an hour delivering pizza from your cream Honda (that was a lot of money then)
  4. Didn’t stare at your mangled arm, eaten by the misplaced mailbox, but I wanted to and always imagined how it must have hurt
  5. Still share your stories: Vermont, your rustic lesbian moms, the commune school where you all streaked on parents day . . . You were so different from me . . .
  6. Loved your tangled black hair that looked so weird on occasion when you combed it
  7. No one had your swagger—ass-in, pelvis first, like you were packing in those badass motorcycle boots paired with a Navajo-striped woven coat
  8. Didn’t have sex with you when you were trashed and felt me up at the party You were with the coke dealer then who told everyone he was hung
  9. Didn’t have sex with you when your roommates instigated an orgy (you drove me home)
  10. Didn’t have sex with you when you dropped your clothes to the cement and dove into the pool after we broke into the Arbor Hills Club
  11. Didn’t have sex with you when I held you and you were so drunk your eyes closed as you stroked my cheek—we fell asleep, you in my arms
  12. I was waiting for the right sober moment, and then all the moments passed, but do know this was respect and with the deepest regret
  13. What I’d do to you if you were still here


Koss they/them/she) is a queer writer and artist with an MFA from SAIC. They have work in or forthcoming in Diode Poetry, Five Points, Hobart, Cincinnati Review, Lunch Ticket, Gone Lawn, scissors & spackle, Bending Genres, Anti-Heroin Chic, Prelude, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Chiron Review, North Dakota Quarterly, South Florida Poetry Journal, Spillway, San Pedro River Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Rogue Agent, Rat’s Ass Review, Boats Against the Current, Alien Buddha, Westchester Review, Kissing Dynamite, Schuylkill Valley, Amethyst Review, and many others. They were also included in Best Small Fictions 2020 and won the 2021 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Award. Koss received BOTN nominations in 2021 for fiction (Bending Genres) and poetry (Kissing Dynamite). Keep up with Koss on Twitter @Koss51209969 and Instagram @koss_singular. Website: