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"Black Hole Sun" • Soundgarden (by Ronnie K. Stephens)


My first kiss was inevitable. For months she leaned in

looked me right in the eye and laughed. Each time

my heart, angry lover, pounded on the locked door

of my chest. I didn’t want to care for her. Not like this.

Drunk and power mad. But she asked me to walk home

with her and her boyfriend. I stayed behind after he left.

She kept the radio low to listen for the garage door.

Her thighs went on forever like two worlds. She brushed

past and my hand felt their heat. I stood up to leave

and she did it again. Caught my eye. Pressed me against

the door. Her lips were blueberry bushes and I could taste

peanut butter on her tongue. Black Hole Sun played

for an entire lifetime. 


We became kisses in the dark 

corners of hallways before school. Covert trips to the library

and deliberate glances in the lunchroom. She taught me

affection in shadows and closets. Her boyfriend never knew.

I couldn’t kiss and tell for years. Craved the rush of stolen

moments before lovers returned from the bathroom or store.

I hadn’t yet learned what it meant to only ever be a secret.

Didn’t even ask why 


so many of them never said my name...



Ronnie K. Stephens holds a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies, a Master of Arts in Creative Writing and a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction. Stephens is pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Texas at Arlington, specializing in American poetry and transgressive teaching practices for the 21st century classroom. He is a staff reviewer for The Poetry Question and the author of three books, including the illustrated poetry collection They Rewrote Themselves Legendary, which won the New England Book Prize.

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