Cynthia Atkins


They left without warning, no note taped

to a mirror, no trace or teaser.  No lipstick

marks, sealed an envelope.  With boarded up

windows like the soul of it gone astray—

like a dog lost from home.

At a moment’s notice—

Pizza crust left on the counter.

Dust balls on the sills. Mice eating the mattress offal.

An emptiness where there was a banter of life—

                         —music, doorbells, loud hammers.

A couple arguing in a new language,

then making up all night. The smell of eggs cooking

at dawn.  The children groggy from sleep, awaken to finish

their homework.  Pencils tapping syllables into place.

Hats hung on a hook, the fire crackling in the stove.

A drawer of mittens and gloves.

Winter snow boots waiting to make tracks.

       Why must we practice leaving and loss?—

The tender missives on the refrigerator door—

Family snapshots, quotes, buttons, magnets.

Simple objects that tell us where we live, who we are.

Home, where we take the stones out of our shoes.




Cool Side of the Pillow

Have you ever heard the sound of a screen door

closing old-timer slow?—Inching madness to the edge

of its seat?— Think of shoes on the wrong feet.

And how fingernails scratch the chalkboard

to test your impulses.  When the dog shits

in the house, and the house isn’t yours.

Lost keys. Bad haircut. Bad ink. Bad poem.

Broken tooth. Ulcer. Speeding ticket.

Bad job. Foreclosure. Your ovaries tied.

Boyfriend sexting someone else.

Your kid hates you. Your dying friend has

no insurance policy. You’re addicted to soap.

Boss screaming down your throat.

You burnt the turkey. Is it worth mentioning,

that moss has no roots?— We know something

has been tampered with, when the seal

is broken.  Only one thing to do, don’t surrender,

turn over your armor, dream a little dream.