Pregnant and Screaming by Dale Champlin

My lover is walled into silence. I used to sit by the trash cans in my back alley smoking a joint while no one was looking. I called it desperation. My silence was all-consuming—too early pregnant—looking at gravel in the potholes back there and the neighbor’s dog wiggling and whining for a cuddle. Can you imagine? I wanted to swallow the back gate, the garage, … Continue reading Pregnant and Screaming by Dale Champlin

I Want to Grab You by Your Short and Curlies by Dale Champlin

-after “I want to sleep with you elbow to elbow” by Joyce Mansour (translated by Emilie Moorhouse) I want to lie naked with my headtucked in the curve of your neckour hair braided like a riveryour hand on my assand my toes in the crook of your knee.I want to recline with your sexclutched between my thighssweating like a tall beerblissed-out as wild strawberries.I want … Continue reading I Want to Grab You by Your Short and Curlies by Dale Champlin

After the Stroke by Dale Champlin

The only thing dead is my right arm—limp as a stunned mackerel washed up by the surf.I can see the fish is still attached to my shoulder.How weird is that? I can’t grasp the word for stroke. Nothing makes sense. I forget about breakfast,forget I should be hungry but don’t forgetto apply lipstick and sunblock. I’m not close to dead.Not even dying. In the ambulance, … Continue reading After the Stroke by Dale Champlin

Briefly Rapturous by Dale Champlin

I admit I love beauty—is there anything more splendidthan an open casket? See how the corpse is laid out in finery—all pink satin and serenity. Noticethe carefully applied makeup, ladylike— unlike anything that went before.The departed soul might flit—moth-delicate in candlelight. Bouquets burgeon down either sideof the aisle—trumpet-shaped vasesgleam lustered, golden and glossy at the end of each pew—a dusting of roses, lilies and baby’s-breaththe … Continue reading Briefly Rapturous by Dale Champlin

Buzz Kill by Dale Champlin

What is so mesmerizing about a quarter inch of beer?It’s more than I might want    but a binge for a fruit fly. One-by-one they muscle up to the bar        take a sip,list off the barstool        dead drunk        then just dead. And yet—      body floating,      wings askew,      each one takes a little tipple        before the big sleep. The saloon’s amber walls rise        slick and slippery.None of the fruit flies        trust their wings. Continue reading Buzz Kill by Dale Champlin

The Thing About Sex by Dale Champlin

-after “Writing” by Charles Bukowski Wait until waiting hurts, wait some more,wait until it hurts like hell, until your ears ring and you can’t think,until you go blind in both eyes,until you want what you want more than anything.until you can’t think of anything elsebecause, yes, it is everything.All you can picture is his hand on your rumphis fingers in your mouth,his lip on your tongue,his face … Continue reading The Thing About Sex by Dale Champlin

Making the Bed by Dale Champlin

I fold the duvet the way my mother ironed my father’s shirts.You could tell she wanted him to love her for it. Bed is my nirvana—softand feathery as a push-up bra I fluff up the pillows—recall last night’s catastrophe. That’s why I don’t want to remember dreams. They can be disturbing.Wakefulness is the planet I count on,my mother blood. Now that my father is deadmy mother no longer irons … Continue reading Making the Bed by Dale Champlin

Anchored Boat Lullaby by Dale Champlin

but I split wrong. Only my mind split—into an array of sirens withshow tunes played in between them. -Max Ritvo, “Stalking My Ex-Girlfriend in a Pasture” That night the three of us shared a banana split—chocolate, vanilla, strawberry—butterscotch drizzles,sprinkles, and whipped cream. We dressed to thenines—nothing unnatural between us. Tony Randall, Jack Benny, and Fred Astaire croonedand tripped behind us—Ziggy Stardust at the microphone.We presented … Continue reading Anchored Boat Lullaby by Dale Champlin

I Was Dealt a Sinister Hand by Dale Champlin

It’s a well-kept secret— put a bag over my headand I’m stunning—pleasedisregard the occasionalrattle and hiss. My body—how enticing—my limbslong and supple,my fingers ambi& dextrous,my ankles pliant & resilient. From the neck downI look good enough to eat—honeyed skin, choke cherry nipples,apricot breasts. Over a meadow my gait might glidebouncy and bubblyin pine-scented air. With the paper sack over my headI come across happy—yet—light a matchhow I … Continue reading I Was Dealt a Sinister Hand by Dale Champlin

Space Phobia by Dale Champlin

After I move out of here—if I make it—I want art, laughter and music. What is the term for the terrorof being alone in a huge open spacesomething like an asteroidtraveling at the speed of lightthrough vast emptiness?  I might tumble—a fear so pervasivethat at times I find myselfcrawling across the pine floor.Even then I might encounter a scorpion,a dozing rattler, or a black widow.While upright … Continue reading Space Phobia by Dale Champlin