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August 12, 2015 Poetry


Chelsea Harlan



Painting of a Vietnamese restaurant lunch menu.

Painting of a woman being pulled out of a river
by her hair and she is smiling and her hair is dry.

Painting of a war-torn meadow: everyone is dead
or playing dead but the remaining soldiers are passing
in two lines with their hands out saying "good game"
only sort of meaning it. One soldier is spitting into his hand.

Painting of a bowl of cold oatmeal, but in sepia tone.

Painting of a cockfight where the roosters are saddled 
and are being ridden by tiny cowboys with tiny bandanas 
and tiny conservative values they uphold in tiny curses.

Painting of someone thinking who they were talking to 
is still behind them in the grocery store but they are not
but the person is still talking leaning down looking at flour.

Painting of a pair of parallel skis gliding smoothly through space.

Painting of having to pee in the middle of the night
but not wanting to get out of bed beacuse it is cold.

Painting of a Slinky slinking down the stairs
then slowly dragging itself back up again, breathing heavy.

Painting of a single mother in love with the man at Kroger
whose job it is to welcome shoppers and say goodbye
to them too and to oversee thieves at the self-checkout lines.

Painting of a B+ essay taped to a painting of a refrigerator.

Painting of my ex-boyfriend using coupons as toilet paper.

Painting of my old dog's final living moments in a small hill of snow.

Painting of saying the same word over and over
again until its meaning is lost forever, like "Alasksa."

Painting of Alaska. Alaska Alaska Alaska Alaska.



image: Aaron Burch