Madison Whatley

I used to hold you

like a shot glass filled

with Bourbon, pressed

against my lips as I shook

my hair out. I never

wanted to treat you

like a wine glass, place you

precariously where my ring

and middle fingers meet,

enforcing no real grasp

on your body. Now, I sip

from Solo Cups and wonder,

no matter how high I got,

was I always meant

to let you shatter?


I Still Search

for you, but I don’t know

where to look anymore.

Does Gabi follow you

the way I did?

The ghost of a heart-eyed

emoji loiters outside Alumni Hall.

We never really dated.

You migrated between relatives

since you were sixteen.

You could not even carry

your dad’s name into adulthood.

I know better than most

that, sometimes, you need

to go by another identity, but I still

check your Insta to confirm

you’re alive. You had this breathy way

of greeting me:        how-are-you?

And I half-want to hear it again.

When I met you, you were hooked

on Oxy from your surgeries,

talking about my doctor loves me.

You went back to school, saying,

It’s too easy to get blow in Arizona.

Every time I drive past 98,

I wonder if I turned left and kept

on through the fog, would I still

find your grandmother’s house?

She wouldn’t know me anyway,

but I long for those escapes in the dark-

the constellations like the scabs on your face.

You came back, but I couldn’t— 

I can’t. I don’t know why I’m still hung up

on a junkie. I didn’t think you’d make it

to twenty-one, let alone twenty-two,

and I wish I knew why I want to know 

who Gabi is to you and why I can’t stop scrolling

down her page, comparing her dye job

and bikini pics to mine. You moved to my coast

and asked me, How are 

the beaches in Ft. Laudy? I told you,

I can’t talk to you anymore; I’m sorry.

You wrote, I was worried this would happen. 

Text me if you change your mind.

I’ll always answer you, Maddie.

I only let my family call me Maddie now.

When you do it, it takes me back,

and suddenly, I remember

when you were Ryan.

In a city like Miami,

how could you ever get clean?

And if you don’t—

like you probably won’t—

how am I going to explain

to my boyfriend

that I need to go South

for another funeral,

for a junkie I never really

got over.


To You

I trusted you when you said

you’d always answer me.

I had no doubt that, one day,

we would be on-again for good.

I fantasized about that day

for years. I imagined running

into you at a G-Eazy show,

at the outlet mall in Orlando,

and at the Wynwood Walls.

I wasn’t sure I loved you

until this morning, when I

 heard that you had died.

A few months back,

I mused, again, what if

 he was the one, to my friends,

who told me, he won’t wait

around for you forever. I,

of course, knew that you would.

I reminded them, this is the man

 who drove two hours through a hurricane

 for me. It feels like the universe

is playing me. I can’t believe

I will never party with you in Mississippi

or take photos with you in Gainesville.

All I have left is this numbness

that I refuse to snap back from

because I am terrified

of letting you go.

You were as exhilarating

as a Lifesaver mint in a glass of ice water

when I first felt your fingertips

 at my bare sides, and, now, I find

myself breathless by you again

in the cruelest way.

My mind is recalling

every word you said to me:

Being with you is so relaxing.

I wish I could be a good person like you.

I don’t want to remember

the brokenness. I just want to keep

the image of you taking me

for ice cream in your leather jacket.

When you get this, please,

call me.



Madison Whatley is a Saint Leo University undergraduate studying Literature. She is from Hollywood, Florida. Her poetry has been published in Furrow, Chomp, Sheila-Na-Gig Under 30, and 30 North.