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May 7, 2010

by Celia Lisset Alvarez

All the vampires walking through the valley
move west down Ventura Boulevard,
and all the bad boys are standing in the shadows,
all the good girls are home with broken hearts.

—Tom Petty

They walk the mall in packs. Last year it was
covens—groups of girls or boys—
never mixed. In their minds they are walking
slower than the others. They do not go
into any stores. They have no money.
They never speak to each other,
arrive after dark, leave before nine.
The boys go home and touch themselves. The girls

read their book, repeating scenes like spells.
By morning, most discard their capes,
wait at bus stops in their usual uniforms—
jeans, T-shirts, sneakers their parents
might have worn, hand-me-down backpacks full
of textbooks underlined or highlighted
by brothers and sisters graduated
last year, or the year before that. A few

wear their blacks to school, don’t wash their hair, smell
of cloves. Last night one of them climbed a tree
outside the window, a girl, an oak. She
stayed there till dawn, scanning the street.
When she was sure there were no vampires, she climbed
back through her window and went to sleep.
She missed the school bus that morning. All day
she stayed in bed, pretending to be sick.

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Celia Lisset Alvarez teaches and writes in Miami, Florida. She has two collections of poetry, Shapeshifting (Spire Press, 2006) and The Stones (Finishing Line Press, 2006). Her work has most recently appeared in Blood Lotus, Fringe, and Fifth Wednesday Journal. She teaches composition, creative, and scientific writing at St. Thomas University.

  1. Linda Umans
    May 12, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I’ve come back to this several times now. Walking along with them. So evocative…Vampires, indeed.

  2. JJS
    June 2, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Adolescence (and longing) captured.

  3. mary
    June 11, 2010 at 10:34 am

    We know them. We love them. And oh what skill it takes to write about them.
    Lyrical and read out loud good stuff. Thanks.

  4. June 12, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Thanks all of you for your comments. I’ll tell my students, who often accuse me of being too judgmental of their penchant for YA literature!

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