Six poems from Kathryn Mockler. Please enjoy a review of The Purpose Pitch also featured in this issue. An interview with the poet coming shortly.
from The Purpose Pitch
—So how are we going to get out of here?
—Why do you repeat my questions?
—I don’t repeat your questions.
—You repeated my question about getting out of here.
—We need a plan.
—I can’t think of anything.
—Let’s think of three ways to get out of here and pick the best one.
—Okay, let’s do it. Let’s find three ways to get out of here.
—Okay. You go first.
—Are you back to repeating?
—I thought you should think of an idea first.
—My idea was you go first, and then you repeated what
—Let’s try to yell.
—Yell? Why not pick something we could use?
—Yelling is an idea we could use.
—We tried it before; it didn’t work.
—Maybe it will work if we try again?
—So idea number one is yelling. Do you have a suggestion for idea number two?—No.
—You answered too quickly.
—I answered quickly because there are no ideas.
—How about banging on the side? Maybe someone will hear us if we bang on the side.
—If they didn’t hear us yell, why would they hear us bang? It doesn’t make any sense.
—Number one is yelling and number two is banging on the side. Do you have any suggestions for idea number three?
—I said yes. You don’t need to repeat it.
—What’s your suggestion?
—We sit here. We do nothing.
—That means we’ll die. You’re not trying.
—There’s nothing to try.
—We just need … need a plan.
—We don’t have a choice.
—Of course we do.
—Don’t you know what’s going to happen?
—I don’t want to think about it.
—In an attempt to survive we will eat our own feces and drink our own urine.
—Next we will claw at each other’s eyes and bite at each other’s flesh. There will be blood. We will no longer be able to see.
—You will be yelling and banging on the side. No one will hear. I will sit and wait. We will pass out before we take our final breaths. Our decaying bodies will fill the place with a stench that neither of us will smell.
—Will maggots form?
—I don’t know. Probably.
NO LEGS NO ARMS
My husband and I were at the ranch house of an acquaintance of my husband’s cousin. White wall-to-wall carpeting sprawled from room to room. The décor was minimal—white leather couches, brass tables fitted with glass tops. The hostess, a long-legged brunette, served tuna and egg salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off. We heard kids somewhere else in the house. The hostess turned up the stereo and classical music played.
For a while I stood there awkwardly with my husband, his stepmother, his cousins, and the hostess. Then a fifteen- year-old girl came out of her room and poured a glass of milk. The girl had the same legs as the mother—long and thin. She was wearing sandals and her toes were painted red. The girl looked over at me and said hi. I smiled but didn’t feel like talking to her, so I picked up a tuna sandwich and walked out of the kitchen with everyone else and into the living room where the hostess was about to start a parlour game.
As the hostess explained the complicated rules, a crash came from the kitchen. It was the hostess’s daughter splayed out on the kitchen floor. One leg was behind her head and the other was cracked in two. I approached the girl and tried to help her up. No, please don’t, she said. I have a toothache. I’m sorry to hear that, I said. I felt bad for leaving her in the kitchen all alone. Then she said, You see my legs? They’re not real. They’re prosthetics. I leaned wooden legs on a mannequin. I just wore fake legs so I could be normal, she cried, and so everyone would stop making fun of me because I have a toothache.
Just then my husband’s stepmother came into the room, and I took a closer look at her legs. They were wooden too. Are you looking at my legs? my husband’s stepmother said. I nodded. They’re not real, she said, and neither are my arms. She and I, his stepmother pointed to the girl, went to the same surgeon. You mean all this time, you’ve had no legs or arms? No legs or arms, she repeated. I turned to my husband, Did you know about this? No, he said. I’m just as shocked as you. What if we took them off? I asked. Then I would just have a body.
Why didn’t you tell us? I asked. Because, she pointed to the girl on the floor, like her, I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be like everyone else. Is it like wearing makeup to cover a scar? I asked. Yes, she said, it’s exactly like that.
What is the world going to do with so many good parents? Everyone will be so well-adjusted. There’s not going to be enough jobs for all the people who can and will do good work.
I WISH I THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING FIRST
I’m crying into my thunderstorm.
I don’t think we have the same tastes in apocalypses.
You smell like TV.
Your government is a selfie.
We would all be better off if we just worried about how good we look in our phones.
I make no pronouncements.
I’m feeling the rage again.
It’s a stupid form.
From one prison to the next.
I like your projection.
Most things aren’t worth fighting for.
Everything is cute. Nothing is a waste of time.
Your poems are killing me.
Stop trying to make me a pervert.
I think my rage is coming across as rage.
I wish I thought of everything first.
He accuses her of baby talk.
The object you liked has been removed by its owner and can no longer be liked.
I’m pretty sure everyone deserves to be hated.
Why are they trying to scare us so much?
We are all complicit in the system. Just in case you think none of this is your fault.
I did my best.
Everyone fucks good even stupid people.
World, if I were you, I would give up. Stop trying so hard. Stop trying to be something you’re not. You’re so big, you’re busting. You’re about to explode and everyone here is tired of listening to you talk about yourself. We just want to hear someone else’s voice for a change. We just want to go home.
DON’T DISTURB ME I’M WRITING A LOVE POEM
Don’t disturb me I’m writing a love poem
I can’t do the dishes I’m writing a love poem
The deadline has passed I’m writing a love poem
I can’t finish lunch I’m writing a love poem
Don’t hold open the door I’m writing a love poem
I can’t go to the protest I’m writing a love poem
I’m at the bus stop I’m writing a love poem
I didn’t take a shower I’m writing a love poem
Nobody will get hurt I’m writing a love poem
Don’t buy me a lottery ticket I’m writing a love poem
Can you get more paper I’m writing a love poem
My plants are all dead I’m writing a love poem
I’ve lost every friend I’m writing a love poem
I’m not depressed I’m writing a love poem
Poems from Kathryn Mockler’s The Purpose Pitch, Mansfield Press (2015). Used with permission from the author.