death has to make a living too

j.v. sumpter

Always sleep with a coin on your tongue
to pay the ferryman
when he comes.
They say that death takes everyone,
but souls without a fare
are left to run
along the riverbank and shunned
passage to the afterlife—
and that’s where ghosts come from.

the fourth

j.v. sumpter

It sounds like someone being tortured—
the hollow screams
snaking up through the black heat.


Then, combustion,
and drops of light rain down like
gravel, sparkling like pop rocks,
and I can taste this night on my tongue.


The midnight drive home:
dangerous, the roads a minefield
of short-fused bombs
impatient to streak straight up
like souls into heaven.


I pray the car
does not get in their way.

J.V. Sumpter is a 21-year-old writer. She has worked for Polyphony HS, The Evansville Review, The Orchards, Kelsay Books, Thera Books, and freelance clients. She received 2020 Virginia Grabill Awards in Poetry and Nonfiction and has publications in Leading Edge Magazine, The New Welsh Review, The Claremont Review, and forthcoming in Wretched Creations and Not Deer Magazine. Visit her on Twitter @JVSReads.

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