Message in a Bottle


I pour it into me and let

the drug take its effect.

This was my grandpa’s medicine, this gin

that tastes like pine trees

and feels like needles

going down my throat.

They say alcohol is a depressant and it’s true—

the glass is always half full

until I drink it.


But to him it was something different.

Dad tells me my grandfather used it

to treat toothaches and sore throats,

and I imagine how it must feel to be sick

all of the time.


For me it helps

to bridge the void between

the living and the dead,

to feel like him when I can’t feel

near him anymore.

But with each swallow I feel less

like myself, and I wonder then

if I ever really knew him at all.


Suffocating Sky


I remember the last cigarette I ever had.

I was on the porch of some shitty apartment

wearing a leather jacket like it defined me

as I watched the smoke dance into the yellow haze

of the moon. That’s when I got the call—

the results were in. Her lungs had lit up

even though she never had.


“Thank you,” I said, putting out the flame.


My throat burned, and the words

fell from my lips

like ashes.



Luke Bell is a senior creative writing major and professional writing minor at Ball State University. Luke is currently the lead prose editor of The Broken Plate, Ball State’s national literary magazine. This is his first publication.