A teen falls into a damaging romance.
“I will call him X,” says Sam about her narrative choice not to name this story’s boy, “for the number of times I plunged into self-destruction.” She meets X at the coffeehouse where he works. He’s lanky, and he’s also 22 to her 17; he “wants to ride his Vespa / through the coffee fields of Columbia.” Sam’s a painter and projects an undeserved bohemian-artist image onto X. When he mentions desiring a media empire like Hugh Hefner’s—not the naked girls, he adds, just the empire—Sam doesn’t bat an eye. X’s heady allure pulls her headlong out of her world of SAT prep, presided over by a pearl-wearing stepmother and a father who cares only about his reputation as an aspiring politician. The real X lies and cheats. He’s a drug user and a dealer; the Vespas he drives are stolen. Sam does drugs with him, steals her stepmother’s diamond earrings and gives them to a random fellow partier. “Is this what love is? / A jerky jagged jumpy ride?” The nonuniformity of Lyons’ prose poems, which continually shift form and style, employing choppiness, odd spacing and fast beats (“Meet a guy / butterflies // then come lies / systemized”), among other devices, matches Sam’s lack of grounding. Give this to Ellen Hopkins fans.
Turbulent love via turbulent poems. (Verse fiction. 14-18)