for teens, by teens

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats.

Leibniz Bar

T. Aliano

It's 2:32 A.M.,

and I'm at the Leibniz Bar, Berlin,

“a city where freedom is spelled like

GRAFFITI, much different from the

World,” as he says, the guy next to me

gulping gin like water, his fourth,

maybe fifth, glass. “Man, it ain't too

bad here,” he says, this twentysomething

guy, his tongue drooling liquor and Austin.

“I always liked it, man. But I do miss the

World. I miss Oreos. Dr. Pepper. Hell, I

miss my boyfriend, well ex, the asshole

who left me when I was in Nam.” His

eye sockets are swollen plums, their pits

twitching more, more with each slurp.

“Y’know, someday I’ll return and woo,

wrangle him back. He must be old now,

wrinkly as me, but that don’t matter.”

I say nothing, sipping water like gin.

“We was artists, y’know. Austin’s best.

We tagged more walls than anyone, man.

But that’s illegal there, unlike here,

a city where freedom is spelled like

GRAFFITI, much different from the—“

I stop him. Block, pivot, parry, stab.  

“How’d you end up in Nam?” I pry,

just to try to penetrate him deep inside.

He swallows, like gin’s hallowed. “They

cut me a deal, man. They said I’d serve

no time if I enlisted, so I did. I went to

Nam, and man, it’s a jungle. They wasn’t

lyin’. In the middle of desert—a jungle.

I don’t even know why I’m cryin’.” But

I do, because my eyes are already bleeding,

like the paint we sprayed in Austin, or the

blood that dripped down my ass in prison. I

cry like I did that night, locked up tight,

hoping at least he was alright. I know him

too well, from then, before the War became

his personal Hell. Before he wrote the letter,

bragging about how his “colleague” tortured

detainees and he “let her.” I knew him

before Iraq, before Nam, before his brain

became a dirty bomb. Before he unfurled.

“I ain’t never going back to the World.”

T. Aliano is an eighteen year old recent graduate of Ed W. Clark High School. Although boasting numerous rejections, he had not until now been graced with publication. When not scribbling stories or rhymes, he's usually reading, debating politics, or blogging on Tumblr. He divides his time between Vermont, Nevada, and Austria. He will attend Middlebury College in the Fall.

© Canvas Literary Journal 2016
Writers & Books
Rochester, NY