Samantha Lamph/Len: We’ve Taken Turns Saying No
Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Photo: Joanna C. Valente


Half our lives
we’ve taken turns
saying no.

I want to run into you
in a dream/ in the dark
of that same dive bar.

We sit side-by-side,
stool-to-stool, and, slowly,
inch-by-inch, our shoulders
gravitate closer and closer.

Our favorite songs are playing,
one layered on top of the other,
just the best parts on loop, harmonizing.
They become this new,
somehow heavenly tune; sounds
from another world, bringing us back
into our old orbit.

Neither my gin nor your whiskey
is quite as intoxicating,
but it does feel phenomenal: this first time
getting drunk with you.

We close the place down,
and loiter outside, leaning
against the back door because, for once,
neither of us is looking
for a way out;

we both want
a way back in.

Here is where you apologize,
for it all. You whisper
your long list of regrets into my mouth,
transferring each from your lips,
placing them gently
on my tongue.

I swallow one, then the next, and then another,
taking my time; there aren’t enough
syllables to savor;
I’d been starving so long.

and I can tell—I can taste it
in every word:
they all come back
to this one.

the two of us,
we say yes,
turn back time,
trade & twist.

Samantha Lamph/Len is a writer and cat masseuse in Los Angeles. She is also the creator and co-curator of Memoir Mixtapes, a literary magazine that brings our love for music and writing together in one medium. You can read more of her work in Occulum Journal, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, and Luna Luna Magazine, among others. Find her online at or follow her on Twitter @quandoparamucho.