Morphing into thin lines
Stop at the entrance and smile
Wave to those you once loved
Extend the lash
Press the powder deep into the skin
A new day beckons forward
Let’s say I swallowed a coin by accident
Let’s say I was tapping the dime on my teeth despite Mom always droning Don’t put things in your mouth Why are you always putting things in your mouth and let’s say my sister the wiggleworm whacked my elbow and the coin dropped down my throat like a gumball and let’s say Mom wasn’t there because she was upstairs she’s always upstairs where she’s been ever since Dad left with the big suitcase and let’s say Jenna and I loved it at first eating frozen pizza and ice cream and spring rolls and watching movie after movie especially the Terminator movies that Mom hates but now there was just dirty ice in the bottom of the freezer and now we’re scraping the bottom of the peanut butter jar and no more grape jelly and now Jenna is really getting on my nerves with her elbows and her I’m hungry and when’s Dad coming back but now it was summer and there was nowhere we had to be and when we picked up the phone sure enough it was still working and do you know that coin popping down my throat was so comforting that I found another and do you know I went to bed dreaming of how those two dimes might call to each other in the squish of my insides and how they might reach for each other like the T1000 in Terminator who reformed from pools of liquid metal and do you know I dreamt of the coins finding each other in the night and joining hands like Mom and Dad used to and let’s say I never woke up to find it wasn’t true.
A video poem: Use an Acceptable Color
Pink baby plastic flesh
Watch as the color of skin flashes
white to pink to white again
His hands and feet
mistaken for pennies
Dig all four nails into lifeline
Somewhere, a plastic baby Jesus
Waits for the sting
Shapeshift into plank form
through empty all-night laundry mats
Tuck right thumb inward
As we pass the tree line of parking meters
Raise arm, let fly
Hands of the homeless
Chorus Blog is our opportunity as the team behind Meow Meow Pow Pow to share our interpretation of the themes we ask writers to submit work for. Here is our Chorus Blog on... "Cat's Out of the Bag."
mums - MARIE MARANDOLA
Sunday - Krystle Griffin
Watch a cat’s attention as it darts towards outside the window, birds tauntingly chirping its name. Their pupils dilate like sharks when a scent of prey currents by. Focus becomes laser sharp after lazily licking their tuft. A supple pouch that rests at the bottom of their abdomen sways as they pounce to the ledge. Chortling through the glass pane as if the birds give a shit. Pigeons continue to plop on the wire, cooing the cat’s torment. Possibly more cruel than a cat and mouse game, the pigeon swings freely. It has the pleasure of knowing what it is like to feel the wind intimately. Showing the house cat arrogantly what it is missing.
Yet what does a bird make of this… It has the advantage of a bird’s eye view, to fly wherever it wishes to go, to sit on telephone wires and scourge. But does it know it’s being watched? Observed, plaguing predators that cannot reach it. Becoming an afternoon source of an entertainment ripple effect, cat watches bird as humans watch cat. All the while, the world sits around them. These tiny specks, snowflakes in the mound, a blip.
We watch her from your bed, the cat dancing on the ledge. We delight in her sounds. We watch as snow floats down from the sky as the clouds shed their crystal dandruff. Like the dandruff collecting on the cat’s black tail, a starry night that sways ever so often. Like how Head and Shoulders reminds me of your shower rack. Its smell, while not appealing on its own, mixes with your scalp and leaves behind traces of when you were here. I huff and ingest the place where your head slept, remembering how you buried your head into my chest. Remembering when your head dives into my neck. Remembering the soft kisses placed in there.
We watch her from your bed, the cat dancing on the ledge. We delight in her sounds. We watch as snow floats down from the sky as the clouds shed their crystal dandruff.
in a past life we were executioners - Kim GORANSSON
The smell of Laundry - Jane-Rebecca Cannarella
Salad piled in a butter-colored bowl, leaves in messy disarray like the flyaways of a wizard’s beard. At 30, I convinced myself that all meals tasted better standing at the kitchen counter, eating out of shallow bowls. I’ve taken eight years of silent meals standing and alone, stems and leaves pocketed in my mouth.
I hunched over my phone; the morning sun bounced its rays off the glass, obscuring my scrolling by accentuating the grease on the phone from my forever-damp cheeks. I smudged the screen’s sheen to read an article about how scientists had turned a spinach leaf into beating human heart cells, the pouched gloss of piled spinach still dissolving in my mouth.
That Tuesday in the middle of a month with no beginning nor end, the morning breakfast salad quickly disappeared into a slick of vegetable oil and white vinegar. My back ached as I pressed over the Formica and read about how scientists decided to use the system of veins already in place from a spinach leaf to try to engineer a solution for organ shortage. The same abundant plant in my mouth, moments from its transformation; after five days, the cells began to thump. Thrumming with life, the spinach was more multifaceted and mysterious than anyone I knew.
Distracted by the news, my elbow knocked into the bowl, and a tidal of oil splashed on my white t-shirt, spreading slowly, making clear the fabric. Was the spinach dead when it was plucked or when I ate it? Or was it still alive in a hollow body I use as a home? Alone in the kitchen, I removed the stained shirt, padded calloused bare feet into a bedroom decorated with mountains of laundry, and dropped its limp body onto a mound. I tongued salad remnants stuck in an unfilled cavity.
March is always the saddest month. Tuesdays are the worst days of the week. Tuesdays in March are the least likable days of all.
April arrived like the sun rising at midnight; a dozen tittering birds bounced outside the window. On the first Saturday of April, the kitchen filled with the morning sun as I leaned over the counter scrolling through a feed of online strangers whom I call friends before stopping at a post where a person I never met encouraged his bountiful followers to improve their lives by spring cleaning. Desire is a desperation, and in the desire for any improvement, I left the kitchen to the mountain range in the bedroom: a bewildered trail of discarded items I thought I loved. I gathered a heap randomly and stepped into the stunning yellow of the day to walk the four suburban blocks to the laundromat. The birds were going mad in the bushy tops of oak trees.
The smell of laundromats is that of late-in-the-season tangerines and the music of machinery. Once, when I was 22, while at the same laundromat, I brought a black suitcase filled with clothes, and put them in the dryer for too long, and drank Merlot out of a red plaid thermos while sitting in the sky-blue plastic chair. I thought myself so grown up at the time.
The discarded dirty garments tumbled into the washing machine piece by piece, puzzles from periods of unremembered abandonment cast into a growing hill. The sweatshirt pelted with white cat hair, a jacket with a patch of a palomino horse small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and the white t-shirt specked with oil from the morning I learned of the beating heart of spinach leaves - how I ate the spinach while reading about their veiny humanity.
The remaining leaves had fed me throughout March, alone at the dark kitchen counter, an unconscious kinship with the pulsing of a plant as fellowship, my own heart bloodless in the deadening season.
I pressed the shirt to my face before dropping it in the machine and thought of the veins of spinach so similar to ours. I held my hand over my heart to see if the spinach had helped with its beating. The April sun shone upon the linoleum floor, fabric softener—the smell of flowers—a haze around the laundromat attendees, together in our task.
I sat on the sky-blue plastic chair. A tall man sat beside me. He had thinning hair the color of wet red rocks and wore a faded denim jacket with nickel-sized buttons on the lapel. He bumped his knees into mine as he adjusted his cricket legs into a more comfortable position, then quickly apologized. I waved it off, tried to smile, tried to remember the politeness of how to talk to strangers. I asked him how he was doing on such a beautiful day. He swept his long fingers over his face before he responded, “I am acceptable, and I’m alive.”
In the silence that followed the pleasantries, we sat listening to the tumble of clothes becoming clean. Both of our hearts were still beating.
I asked him how he was doing on such a beautiful day. He swept his long fingers over his face before he responded, “I am acceptable, and I’m alive.”
What Do You Believe?
Who knows what might be
burning inside this
Easy-Bake Cremation Bin?
My little sister
decided it could be used as a conveyer belt
for Barbie, but wouldn't elaborate
where she was being conveyed to.
if it could work
as a special sort of threshold
for my dead fish.
Mom said it smelled like Hell.
Keep an eye out for Juliet Cook's chapbook "Your Mouth Moving Backwards" coming soon by Ethel Zine.
The humans are all gone.
Last Sunday I buried a bone and went to sleep.
This week was a blubbering and drooling blur. And this Sunday, today’s Sunday, which should really be renamed, because it is cloudy and covered and there is no sun. This Sunday my bone was gone. In its place was a tree where I had buried it. A big, hulking tree that couldn’t have grown to that size in a week. But sometimes the neighborhood kittens get quite big overnight. Sometimes the puppies' barks deepen and it is only the day after they learned how to yap. So maybe the tree did grow quickly, maybe the soil is good and maybe, if I ask really politely, it will give me my bone back.
So I ask. And the tree doesn’t talk. It doesn’t have opinions or negotiations. It doesn’t have fruit or vegetables or anything other than dark green leaves. The sun sets and I sleep. The tree shades me from the morning sun, and the afternoon heat, and suddenly I am always under it. I come to like it more than the house and my many, many beds. The tree doesn’t grow anymore. A week passes then two.
I babysit for my sister, carry the puppies one by one in my mouth, careful not to cut them on my teeth. They play in the sprinklers at the park and race each other back home. My sister thanks me, gnawing on her favorite bone. I think of the tree.
When I arrive back home, on the branch is something white and obtuse. At the slightest shake the object falls. Wrapped in white wrapping paper, protected by a green ribbon, is my bone. I can smell it. I peel away the layers and lick at it. I chew and chew and chew and chew until it exhausts me. I curl myself into a C at the tree’s base.
In the morning, something falls on my head and I wake up with a start. A bone. Not my bone, but a new bone. One that smells like summer and sprinklers and puppies. I look up. The tree has bore fruit: all variations of chewable bones.
Beyond the wooden fence of my backyard, a nosy bloodhound looking over is wagging his tail excitedly. Yesterday his plum tree started bearing beef jerky flavored plums.
Outside of our suburb, in a high rise, a tabby cat is discovering strawberries that taste like turkey.
All around the city, little miracles are sprouting.
On some dark day
when there is a downpour
I will invite you to my peanut butter house
stacked upon the knees
of bald cypress trees in the swamp.
You will hear me waiting for you
amidst the frogs and insects
shrieking outside my warm abode,
my melorheostotic bones
weeping like candles on the porch steps
made from the scrap wood of
drowned canoes and derelict playhouses.
And I will receive you
in my single room
lit by a jar filled with lightning bugs,
where you can shed your wet clothes,
dry off with a fresh towel,
into anything you want.
Then I will share with you a wedge of my favorite cheese.
It is a riddle on the tongue
and splashed with primary colors-
cornflower, marigold, and rose-
like the war paint of rodeo clowns.
our bellies full,
we will lie down on the earth
matted with lost feathers
and shed snake skins
and listen to the rise and fall
of each other’s breath.
We will drift off into a starless slumber
where everything is just as wondrous,
while the lightning bugs die off
one by one.
One musty summer
I had one musty summer to dissect your absence,
feet clothed in patterns of salt, as I stood watching
the waves swell, like heaving, undulating strings of lungs.
Wish I had more of them to spare.
I'd piled up my clothes in the hotel room.
Later, with salt-crested feet, I'd re-enter this museum of pretense,
unstack them in all the ways we arranged our limbs after touching,
poke holes in cushions to let the feral sighs levitate,
unsew the leather edges of the shoes to see a taut thing come apart,
wishing I had less of them to spare.
Wishing that memoirs would return as seismic activity,
and stay until the seer crosses over to where the sun drops dead.
What if I had more of them to spare,
to make up fables that could erupt, and
burn holes into this muted act of spinning away,
churning out salt in a sea that could pool into my house,
like cat pee, from gravel.
Put away the basin wrench or whatever
talisman you’re holding. That sink will get fixed,
you say, closing the undercupboard
with the regret of a layperson.
Sometimes you’re the layperson,
sometimes you’re the expensive mechanic
with a secret nest of wrens in his chest.
Treat everyone as if they’re a small bird
until you can prove otherwise. Don’t stop
watering the cyclamen. Naïve, sure,
an apartment is the opposite
of a nursery but the light’s near southern
& it grapefruit-colors a rug. See
a specialist about the spirits
coming through that door.
You are hallowed, not haunted,
not downstairs in the disused wing.
You’re nouveau in a baby of a country,
it’s a child, showing the place
to its parents, the gods, who are proud
their dearie made a tree.
The walls outside your room say have fate
& you chat to a bartender who gives you
free shots. It ends there for once, innocent,
the credits rolling early in Gramercy
then the 1, the 2, the 3.
Two Erasures from The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Has a heart
As soft as
I wish it may
Has my judgment
To the world's
But I hate
I cannot bear
For which reasons
In the last word
A tide of little evils
This part of my story
Every line I write
To write a thousand things
I could not help
Ink won't argue with you
The wildest moment
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