I love the smell of skeletons

head of a skeleton

By Samuel Ellington

I love the smell of skeletons,

latex paint and painted putty, puttied
hands and cotton soaked in summer, summer-muddy

shores under my feet, muddy sores under my
tongue that, when I lick them, taste like blood,

bloody noses, bloodied knees, bloody from running
a weed-whacker on concrete, feeling

like lacquered-on fifteen,
mastering the art of going-on-sixteen,

mastering the art of masturbating,
like the time we broke into your

bedroom; you were masturbating, and the time
a year before, at your place in Clover,

and the time a year ago, when you died of a
fentanyl overdose, and I couldn’t do nothing but

breathe. Over three years later you asked me when I
figured out I was in love, and I asked you

are you still religious? (when what I meant was
are you still a Christian?)

And like the time I sent a poem off for feedback,
my reader told me it was too confusing—

there were too many you’s—and when she asked me does the
“you” refer to the lover or is the “you” this other boy? I thought

what the hell does it matter? They
all smell like skeletons to me.

Samuel Ellington is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, studying mathematics. He just started playing the banjo. Samuel’s writing centers around the small textures that make up, and have made up, his life.