The candles are in stock, though it isn’t summer, yet By BrandonLee Cruz

The candles are in stock, though it isn’t summer, yet

And there is still blood before the bodega.
Channel 3’s cameraman focuses on it and

Kara Sundlun says the word “again.”
They breathe in gnats, here for the blood

I refuse an interview; I didn’t know him.
We probably used to play basketball together.

I hand the owner fifty cents for a lucy. A candle
with the image of Mary sits beside her.

I sell them by packs of five now, she says,
everyone here has lost at least five people.

I heard she’d lost one a month ago.

there was another shooting last night, Sundlun says.
The saints burn from the tops of their heads.

The owner goes outside, picks up the candle with
St. Jude on it, and lights her cigarette with its fire.

The flame’s light swallows its own
shadow as if trying to capture its own grief.

By BrandonLee Cruz

Biography:

BrandonLee Cruz is a Queer Afro-Latinx Muslim poet from Hartford, Connecticut. He is currently an undergraduate student at Kenyon College. His work has been published in The Atlantic, Lambda Literary, and Puerto Del Sol.

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