Advil

I take one pill        two
to mask what’s wrong in me
these hurtful words     mouthing
sorry in the dark      I shouldn’t rub
your back       when my partner’s
on the coast       on a beach       here
it snows        yes      I know
this is no excuse      tasteless tablet
smudged slate        white mountain
I am the one percent meaning
I’m money poor      but lucky to
live in the age of modern medicine
a dentist takes a drill
to my root      and neither of us
feel anything     a surgeon cuts
into Dad’s heart         anesthetics
these aches we carry daily
the privilege      why we don’t
say sorry     when we mean it
at the drug store I buy a knife

 

(originally published in The Wayward Sword, Summer 2018)

Can’t Stop Coughing

I binge-take extra-strength cough
drops with gooey menthol centers

having come home from Thanksgiving
earlier than expected

temperatures in the 30s
a shrill turn in the wind

no one outside
but to yell at dogs

men summoning phlegm
hack away at progress

here I sit
alone loudly

perched against white
pillows dry-throated

the medicine kicks in
allows me to speak up

to silence the wall’s tongue
a quiet my body loves

 

(originally published in Hamline Lit Link, 2018)

R+X

the pharmacist
in her white coat
behind the coffin counter

instructed me to call the one-
eight-hundred number

but one plus eight equals nine
and nine is the first number
in nine-one-one
and there are two zeroes
in one-eight-hundred and
two ones in nine-one-one
and if you rotate the number
it’s a four-story building
crooked at the hollow nest
and what of the four
zero floors –
the barren families, pine
and needle. They scrape and dial
my throat’s frigid tones,
white shell.

I chewed my gum and thought,
what a pleasant sound ducks’ feet must make
when they waddle.
soft-boiled trampolines.