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Mario's Last Dance

Gabrielle Aboki

The doors of the church swung open,

and sunlight kissed our skin, welcomed us

to the realities of the new world

no more smile in my uncle’s eyes.

That unholy morning, my aunt called

to tell my grandmother she had lost

her son on her birthday, Bible slipped

from her fingers as she cursed into the open air.

My uncle, who surprised me with bright

pink rolls of Bubble Tape gum and UNO,

who was the first to jump on the dance floor

at a wedding reception, a crowd always watching,

not unlike that night outside of The Gambler.

The gunshots pierced the air, shattering

through bone, his skull—a wine glass

falling from careless hands.

How cold his body must have felt

when the crowd scattered and left him

alone on the 3 a.m. concrete to die

in darkness, barely making it to Sunday.

Gabrielle Aboki is an MFA candidate at Florida State University. She is a poetry reader for the Southeast Review.

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