“In Memory of Exoskeletons”

Published by Memoryhouse Magazine, “Albeit” issue.

And there it goes—another shingle chipped off,
chiseled away this time by the righteous cliché of a baby’s stunned
laughter, and
in Trump’s America, I’m lying naked on the banks of a mosquito-clogged swamp
and the hungry bastards are full of malaria,
pink eye and mad cow disease.

He’s not my first nephew,
I wasn’t a great big sister, but watching my baby brother’s baby
shriek joy and kick fat legs is somehow brand new,
a sneaky tectonic shift
that moves everything in my life two disorienting inches to the left.
Vertigo.

I watched a Facebook video featuring a Sulcata tortoise
whose shell had been damaged in a house fire. Chunks missing,
mottled flesh exposed
to cruel breezes and sunshine, but do-gooders made him a 3-D
printed shell
and it seemed to do the trick.

I’ll have to watch less news, drink more, but Darwinism
will eventually claim me, soft and angry
wrapped in layers of beige cardigan sweaters that aren’t helping, and
by then I’ll probably
go so quietly.

“Tuesday, 7:43 p.m.”

Published by Loud Coffee Press, Volume 2 Issue 1, Winter 2021.

Text:

I want to lump you,
darling,
into a label maker–
tick out your faults and graces
in milky block letters on plasticine strips,
paste them up in each room of our 1950 fixer upper
until you define this
space:

“hands like knotted oak” on the kitchen cabinet
“long underwear in April” on the hot tap handle
“Always gets mad when I sleep through the ending” on the corduroy couch cushion
next to the cabernet stain.

Our history traces the treads of my mud boots,
muck they’ve stomped through,
dead maple leaves,
dog shit.
They dry each new week beneath the swaying dog leash.

Our present sits in a cooling cup of coffee, whorls of vanilla creamer
drifting into
Rorschachs—
now a slinking centipede, now a Pegasus rearing back.

You remembered to take the chicken breast out of the freezer,
for this
for this and a thousand small reasons that
collude like cells to
construct a Redwood or winged
cryptid
will I cook it for you in Aldi-brand Italian dressing
while Huey Lewis croons promises from the countertop speaker.

No Small Things: The Beautiful Stuff Poetry Anthology 2019-2020 Ft. “Intermission”

Purchase from bookshop.org.

From the in depth creative journey of The Beautiful Stuff Blog, comes the first contributor-led collection of poetry. Each poem a discussion of what it means to be human in the ways that we perceive our world, move through it, love, suffer, and learn. Each selection has been hand-picked by the veteran poet and creator of The Beautiful Stuff, S. E. Reichert. Enjoy an amazing journey through the sufferings and musings of some of the most talented poets of the year in this heartfelt and charming collection.

“Intermission”

Published by The Beautiful Stuff (thebeautifulstuff.blog).

“It’ll be just like playing house,” she’d said. “You’ll wear slippers, but not cologne. I’ll wear an apron, but only on Thursdays, only in April and June, and not if I’m not at the bus stop.”

She made me a key, but I saw the framed pictures, coffee rings and toast crumbs I didn’t leave.

Her hair smelled like hyacinths. She left the porch light off when she kissed me goodbye, ignored my declarations, told me not to creak the gate.

It’s August now and I sit behind her on the early bus. She focuses on her crossword or stares out the window, and I wonder if she’s pretending now, too.

“Heirloom”

Published by Luna Luna Magazine (lunalunamagazine.com).

I bore the scar like an ant,
lighter than its cargo on hard-wire legs.
The mark’s heft and drag
curved my spine into a C that stood for Caisson and kneaded a sweet ache into my shoulder blades.
(I feel it still, calling your name)
I often wonder, had you lived, would you like me? I don’t know if I’m the person I am because
you
are
Dead.
(catch, rip, tingle)
For years, I worried the scar’s edges with sharp canines to hold off healing. Now it shines like a just-waxed Chevy
and winks in the sun.
It tastes metallic (lick to keep moist; flash to get into clubs).
Your wedding dress is in the attic. Squirrels have made nests in it, pissed, slept, raised
their young in the yellowed lace.

But my ribs expanded to encase this vast hollow,
my extra inch (you were buried in heels—white—before Labor Day) and
anemic breasts that never filled in—
it wouldn’t have fit, I know.

Do you remember walking to church that spring? Everything melting, skipping
cracks in the sidewalk.
You died, but it wasn’t yet autumn.

“Afternoon, 1988”

Published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, Issue #5, themed “Childhood.

For Jeff

I’ve been meaning to tell you:
That day the crayfish darted backward to their silty secrets—
when I caught one with pincers too small to nip my small palms,
when the creek-smell caught in my throat and stuck,
toes squeezing slippery bed-sand,
minnow schools disturbed, winking soft bodies in sunlight,
when I ran across Route 20 and the blue sedan swerved—
I saw your face from the safe side of the road,
but I couldn’t see your chest expand then deflate;
I didn’t understand my weight,
the harsh sounds your voice made, for me.

“Three Tears in a Bucket”

Published by Slipstream Press, Issue #34, “Rust – Dust – Lust.”

Poetry by: Shanalee Smith, Marc Pietrzykowski, Andrea O’Rourke, Noah Kucji, Harvey J. Baine, Cait Weiss, Courtney Leigh Jameson, Christopher Warner, Quinn Rennerfeldt, Rich Heller, Michelle Valois, Pat Phillips West, David Denny, Leona Sevick, Dawn Corrigan, Michael Walls, Eliese Colette Goldbach, Irena Praitis, Katie Darby Mullins, Mary Kathryn Jablonski, Rachel Squires Bloom, Michael Gatlin, Dan Sicoli, Peter Ramos, Leland James, Les Bares, Bill Edmondson, Ed Taylor, Donna L. Emerson, Alison Stone, F.G. Mulkey, Max Shanley, Lynn Pederson, Doug Draime, Maggie Blake, Paul French, Rebecca Schwab, Katharyn Howd Machan, Jenna-Nichole Conrad, Jody A. Zorgdrager, Nicole Zuckerman, Anthony Seidman, Livio Farallo, Mather Schneider, Yosef Rosen, Terry Godbey, Chelsea Dingman, Jim Daniels, Karen J. Weyant, Katie Longofono, Brian Fanelli, Eric Gelsinger, Jared White, Kimberly Eagen Latko, Bryan Thomas Rice, Janet Warman, John Marvin, Kita Shantiris, Lyn Lifshin, Margo Davis, Carol V. Davis, Aidan Ryan, Lockie Hunter, Beth Bateman Newborg, Regina Murray Brault, Brett Armes, Odessa Denby, M.K. Meder, David Chorlton, and Gerald Locklin.

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