courtney messenbaugh


breath seizes between
my lungs and the bottom of
my throat, in that spot
so many things get red caught—
you used to call it the craw—

because you, you still
gnaw at my heart and my breath,
which stops with a gasp
screeching like a too-late train
trying to avoid a car

on the tracks, that is
parked there intentionally
and welcomes the crash.


Courtney Messenbaugh (she/her/hers) lives in Colorado with her husband, three wild children, and silly dog. She love toast and kindness. Her work has appeared in Yellow Arrow, FERAL, glitchwords, and is forthcoming in High Shelf. She was nominated for a Pushcart once and lost…naturally.