Potluck

 

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Round Baby Eats Apples Laced with Razor Blades


Mother doesn’t know it’s mostly a hoax. Cyanide
candies, LSD dosing, needles like peanuts
in chocolate bars. This is the world we
live in, and she’s heard enough horror
stories to believe that evil sleeps inside us
all. She’ll expect you to dump it out on the bed
before gorging yourself. She’s only protecting
your throat, Baby, your clumped and choking soul.

It’s time to get ready. You’ll go out at dusk, 
leafless trees after late rain, dark shapes ghosting
down the street as a pack, pumpkin glow, cold
but no coat to cover your gypsy scarves, gold
hoop earrings, long skirt sodden and soaked. 
You’ll climb each staircase and prepare
your pillowcase. Ring each doorbell and pretend
your goldfish didn’t leap to its near-death

this morning, out of the glass bowl
and onto the heating grate—like a city
sewer vent spewing from your family room
floor. You’ll forget how you padded downstairs
for breakfast and stood barefoot on that burning
metal, skin blistering, the basement’s foul breath
suggesting through your flannel nightdress. When
it got too hot you stepped off, back into your shivering 

costume of skin. But there still lay your small dumb
pet. Forget how you saw its fin twitch and reached
to bring it back to breathing, but reached too far
and instead felt your finger flare with its own grim
thought, how you gritted your milk teeth and flicked it
through the waiting space between the beastly

grates. It’s getting late, Baby. The porch lights on
your block blink off and your bag’s full
of fruit, sour-juiced and seeping, sliced
through to the rotten core.

 

 

 

Sheila Squillante is the author of the poetry collection BEAUTIFUL NERVE (Tiny Hardcore Press, 2015) and three chapbooks of poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Find her online at www.sheilasquillante.com.