15 December 2021

Three Poems by Lauren Mallett

Ask Your Father
Her cadence of I can’t be bothered.
The beauty of I did what she ordered.
Dad, why does Mom—?
Oh, my first-born perch.
Oh, this particular triangle propped
upon what I’d call stable.
Oh, sad little lice on my heart.
What are skunk shrimp
and where do you find them?
I know. My heart doesn’t ask
who eats the shrimp. The eel
doesn’t. The eel waits, agape
as the shrimp tears apart and swallows
lice after lice from the tongue,
its two pair of pincers
waving how good do I have it
the whole damn meal.
Over and Out
Of course we preferred baby alien,
before the teeth
and the aggression, before
we knew exactly what the outer moon
had given us,
specimen that grew a surplus mouth
to wreck us with,
our vacuum-sealed quarantines wheezed
open by the lat pull of
its primary limb. Today our final dispatch:
the ejected pod plummeting
to Earth, thermometer
making its slow climb to
life, cells frenzied
in their splitting dance,
splashing into the oceanic array
of their own floating cradle.
Blood Stays Put
I will not leave the not room
of my body.
No eye no bead creeping to its corner
not how it doesn’t sweat.
I like to lie down.
Wait for the runoff of my not thoughts
wade through the tunnels
of my not head.
Paddle to the bank grab the not mandrake
and hoist myself over
the terra cotta
aqueduct. I hadn’t considered not before
jumping how it is
I would traverse the not land.
Blood stays put
unlike sweat.  The way one does bird
of paradise is the not
way one does pigeon. I did not hear that
I was just trying
to starfish here not lose this gleaming
please excuse me
not my reach.