Reasons to Hate the Sky

reason 1: at six or seven

we were given balloons and told

that god might enjoy them.

i cried in anger while i watched

my nephew and niece reach past the car 

window, turning palms to cerulean, releasing 

ribbons from their ignorant fingers. somehow, 

even then i felt that they would never 

reach their destination


reason 2: after feeling the sun 

after months of clouds, i welcome the rage

of having lost something


reason 3: there was a day when i felt

lilac coat my eyelids while the day

shattered in slow motion. this went on 

every twenty-four hours. sunset

sunset. sunset.


reason 4: we have enough blue 

in the world as it is. i have loved this color 

too long to blink it beautiful again. 

bluebells have raised me

to know that the farther you move 

from the sun, 

the darker you become.


reason 5: looking up i grow

dizzy. we cannot tilt our heads 

without seeing evidence of our planet 

rolling. this turning always 

feels downhill


reason 6: a flattened happy birthday

beneath a tire’s heavy print. 

all it’s good for now is burial


reason 7: how the ocean can’t be what it is

without the sky as a backbone. we must move

according to our spines. a great white

leaps, mouth up to take a seal in its teeth

and i think how fish and birds are both

swallowed against the same background


reason 8: the balloon, trembling

within the car, tail wrapped around 

my careful fingers. feeling its oxygen 

as a promise of deflation, it wonders

if i’ll keep holding on

while it withers

Photography by Sumner McMurtry


Jessica Armstrong

Jessica Armstrong lives in Hermitage, Tennessee and is a senior at Cumberland University. Her work has been included in Ampersand, Tennessee's Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology, Novus, and Nashville Poets Quarterly.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN