Thursday, April 29, 2010

At the Maximum Security Prison for Men by Chella Courington

Students come to me from solitary confinement
concrete oven set on high—
they come to me
a young woman from the University
who wants to talk about Paradise Lost.

They want to talk too.
Tony says when he broke in, he spotted a dog
and shot a man. Thought the house empty.
Billy Ray says he just needed money from the girl
at the ATM. My hand shook and the trigger went off.

They know why Milton’s God
clips Satan’s wings and kicks him out of heaven.
The man can’t take much lip. Just like my own daddy
knocking me three ways into Sunday when I say no to him.
Knuckles kneading my cheek blue till I cry stop.

The students ask if Satan’s the hero. And I wonder.
Did he endure that heavy hand one too many times?
Punched and mauled like a yard animal
taken behind the barn
left in darkness to find his way back.

First Published: Carquinez Poetry Review (2006). Ed. Ruth Blakeney.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Honor of Mootie, JT & Miss Rhoda

Sister Cat
by Frances Mayes

Cat stands at the fridge,
Cries loudly for milk.
But I've filled her bowl.
Wild cat, I say, Sister,
Look, you have milk.
I clink my fingernail
Against the rim. Milk.
With down and liver,
A word I know she hears.
Her sad miaow. She runs
To me. She dips
In her whiskers but
Doesn't drink. As sometimes
I want the light on
When it is on. Or when
I saw the woman walking
toward my house and
I thought there's Frances.
Then looked in the car mirror
To be sure. She stalks
The room. She wants. Milk
Beyond milk. World beyond
This one, she cries.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Diana loved anything orange by Chella Courington

Diana loved anything orange

—cats, lipstick, hunting vests, nail polish, hard hats, life jackets, water guns. When she slipped through her mother’s legs, almost butting the doctor’s stomach, her skin turned a yellowish red. I did crave pumpkin, her mother said. Before my water broke, I ate a whole pie, crust and all. It took eleven days of being rubbed in olive oil and resin, her mother’s fingers lightly massaging Diana’s new skin that capitulated to air in March before trout season, before her father deserted them for Pennsylvania streams. Her eighth Halloween she painted her nose and toes tangerine and swathed herself in a sheet, RIT-dyed sunshine orange, that her mother soaked in white vinegar until the bleeding stopped. Even then in third grade, she knew what they didn’t. How we climb into our wombs at night, sheets over our heads and wait for the water to float us back.

Runner-up in The Collagist's 2009 Flash Fiction Contest