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Young Writers Project: Barricade

09/17/12 6:00AM
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Matt Hollar, of Montpelier, a junior at Champlain College, says his main incentive for writing is for “the satisfaction of performance.  “The actual process of writing is very hard for me, but sharing my work with an audience is effortless – and a ton of fun!”

Barricade
By Matt Hollar
Junior, Champlain College

She drips sweat like gasoline,
stomps thunder-and-lightning rhythm in the pavement.
She dances with riot cops,
spinning them like weathervanes in her storm—
clattering, and
pointing nowhere.
This is the body she’s learned to use.
The tips of her knotted hair smoldering,
painting spirals of orange afterimage against the smoke.

He wonders why she doesn’t burst into flames.

He sees her through a camera lens,
fisheyeing like she’s bulging to explode.
Windows shatter at every twitch of her invisible conductor’s baton.
His shutter snaps like bones breaking.
He wants every frame of her screaming riot dance.


The handcuffs left red rings on her wrists,
so when she holds them together,
they make a figure-eight.

“It’s ‘cause I’ll never stop burning,” she says.

“Eventually I’ll just be bones and teeth,
so if you want to etch into that hardness the still frames of my rhythm,
go for it,
but I’ve got ten fingers and they’re all lit matches, so
don’t bring too much notebook paper.”

There’s a combination lock buried in her chest.
He turns it right toward New York,
Left to San Francisco, and right
back to Boston,
but he still can’t unlock the tumblers of her ribcage.
She wasted all her tears on tear gas a long time ago,
but she makes up for it by opening her pores in the heat of the riots,
and letting gasoline sweat spill out.
She’s the fuel,
burning police-light blue.

There’s always a spark but it’s never her.
She’s newspaper,
painted klaxon red
and printed with stories that just
go up in smoke.
“If I bled ink,” she says, “would you write me down?”

She burns like a gunpowder trail to nowhere,
and he knows the horizon’s catching up to her faster than a rubber bullet.
But in the fire-and-brimstone melody of shouts and breaking glass,
and under the lights
and the flames,
with lighter fluid dripping from her fingertips,
she shimmers like a mirage.

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