by Mischelle Anthony


at my southern speech—
"put up" for "put away."
I tell you my grandmother
claimed something
about pies on shelves.

Puzzled students almost failed
a midterm when asked
to put up their cell phones:
one blank screen atop
formica, another held
in air. I meant put away.

Up here, I practice.
Put away the vacuum.
Put out the light.
Put away the groceries
we carried uphill
for your mom.
Put up didn't fit
any sentence

until you announced
on the shadowed landing,
"I'm not putting up
with this anymore."
The present participle caught
me off guard; I wanted
to laugh with you
at the finally appropriate
place for my all-purpose
predicate phrase.
Porch light spilled onto
your shoulders descending
the stairs. Tonight was a night
for present tense.
The key sat on the nightstand,
right where you put it.



So this is what it's like,
the pain of breaking
yet staying alive.
This day and its cement
sky, we tossed around cruelties
fishing for grace.
Grief & function.
You scoffed "another
nail in the coffin"
all those times . . . .
How many to keep it closed?
Could a crowbar force
the lid? That hammer
levitates over a flat
steel head. Opposition held
in amber, fossiled fingers
pointing, reaching
toward each other like figures
on a goddamn urn.


MISCHELLE ANTHONY is Associate Professor of English at Wilkes University specializing in poetry and eighteenth-century literature.  Her poetry has appeared in Mudfish and Watershed, and her collection, [Line], is available from Foothills Press.




return to Issue Seventeen