MRB Chelko


I feel warm only because the dog is so warm. I wonder,
if I die in my sleep, will she eat me? Ridiculous. It’s never
colder than 50 degrees. In different countries, I keep waking up
only to discover I’m still asleep. Sometimes an old man, himself
wide awake, sells me flowers. He says, “You have a voice, young lady,
smooth as stone.” In every country I am flattered and troubled
by that stone. When I’m asleep, I speak
more languages than there are languages on the earth. I basically rule
the universe. But, awake, I pray a goat will find its way
into our mailbox. My husband and I will
drink its milk, call ourselves simple people. Instead, papers come
with marks that mean “give me your wallet” in English, but
it looks funny. How can a language so rich resemble, on the page, a sidewalk
where people have waited in line with muddy shoes? At dinner, our neighbor spits
money on his plate. Chewed, it becomes vegetable. The houseplant
our dog spent puking. My husband and I watch
the neighbor and pat each other on the back. We make love
in the shower and hope the neighbor’s kids are watching.
When we have kids we will dangle paper birds 
from threads pinned to the ceiling. “This is life,” we’ll tell them.


I loved pears; I loved to feel
the inhuman grip of their skin—I thought
it wanted to be touched. I would bite into the fruit,
then squeeze until the pool I’d made biting
filled with juice, until my fingers were sticky with wet.
Then, I raised my juicy hands up. 
Praising what?
No fruit grew in the sky.
The clouds were not seed pods.
The clouds were not even blossoms.
I tried to chew my way out of the world.
I did not belong in it anymore,
but I did not belong in the ground either.
I saw a feather fall from a bird, rock itself to sleep
as it fell. I thought, I belong in a hammock like that, slung
between two masts on a boat. I wanted
to be a dream boat. I wanted to be both
boat and dream, to sail into your brain 
with a sail like a long silver wing.
You: all that mattered to me, then.
I wanted to mix my mind with yours,
for us to become a single piece
of plastic fruit someone might pick up
in a supermarket, then exclaim, turning to a stranger,
how did this get




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MRB Chelko is a recent graduate of The University of New Hampshire's MFA program and Editorial Assistant of the unbound journal, Tuesday; An Art Project. She has poems in current or forthcoming issues of AGNI Online, Forklift, Ohio, Verse Daily, and Washington Square among others. 




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