★ Three Poems by Nancy Botta

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Oh my God, shut up Susan

Small talk
about the holidays
new year, new you
maybe you’ll go paleo—
there’s no way out of this room

 

Small talk
about the weather
mudslides and ice patches
maybe you’ll buy new boots—
there’s no way out of this exchange

 

Small talk
about the community
the alderman is up for re-election
maybe you’ll remember to vote—
there’s no way out of this moment

 

Small talk
about the neighbors
always screaming and banging
maybe you’ll call the cops later—
there’s no way out of this script

 

If I could
I would fold myself up
slip through the walls
and disappear forever
but you’re here, talking at my face
with the expectation of geniality
so just give me a moment
to think up some bullshit
just give me a moment
to breathe.

That time you fell asleep at 4 p.m. while watching your child play—

You find yourself face down on a polyester couch
eyeglasses in hand and barely awake
you hear the toddler toddling 3 feet away
and hope they have the presence of mind
to not kill themselves or toddle into the radiator
that shrieks like a ghoul whenever it gives off heat.

 

Tired.
You’ve never felt this tired before
and you wonder if this is what a slow death feels like
an unrelenting surrender to the warm exhale of sleep
or a yawning inhale of the vast unknown;
but death is such a morbid contemplation
not at all appropriate for a stolen cat nap
amidst toddling toddlers and shrieking radiators
so you turn back and swim away from the catacomb
away from an invitation to the dreamless deep.

 

You find yourself awake, alive (and just a little bit sweaty)
time is immaterial as you grasp around for your glasses;
Is the toddler still toddling? Check
Is the radiator still shrieking? Check
Has the toddler managed to avoid
toddling into the radiator and kick start
all sorts of shrieking? Check and check.

 

So you b r e a t h e
stretch
and blink in the world
of toddling toddlers
shrieking radiators
and try to put away that coaxing memory
of that fathomless, bottomless, endless sleep.

Generation Loss

Generation loss of a happy moment—
sun and grass, watermelon smiles
loop back
cut the noise
record, let’s try that again.

Static glows from her head
and pitch shifts her voice
(the one you almost forgot)
when she pulls you in and says
“smile for the camera!”—
red juice drips off your chin
as you jostle pink meat
against white teeth and full cheeks;
beaming at a little red light
beaming like a little sun.

Generation loss of a happy moment—
sun and grss, watrmlon smils
loop back
cut the noise
record, let’s try that again.

 

Nancy Botta lives in Berwyn, Illinois and has been previous published in WINK: Writers in the Know. 

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