Poem #1: Prose poetry chain

Kristen Nelson



No mayo. No marinade. No meat. Cook green, cook yellow, cook purple. Don't eat, don't drink (too much), don't binge. No chocolate sauce. No ice cream. No caramel. Replace sour cream and onion potato chips with wasabi almonds. Organize bowls. Organize funnels. Organize spoons. Recycle empty bottles of wine. Dump ashtray.


I wanted you here with me last night, my butter-molded butterfly. I wanted you sitting in my lap, where my (our) cat sat. You would find it as frustrating as me to see that he has taken to sitting on the counter tops. My long nails scratch crusty things off of the bottom of the sink: healthy food bits, grains and greens, things you would never eat.



Eat in here. Hang art in here. Smoke in here. Yes, smoke in here. Chain smoke in here. Read a book and eat rainbow chard with amino acids and smoke in here. Buy a new table, place it there. Use a tablecloth, put it there. Replace the light bulbs, up there. Wash the mirror. There, there.


I make roasted eggplant and asparagus soup for dinner and we smoke cigarette after cigarette. Smoke curled up past our fingers, past vanilla candles, past those paintings that make me so sad, past the window that will never open and up up up to the high ceiling. I don't bring up your name at dinner and neither do they. It's not appropriate. It will give us indigestion. I have tried hard to erase you from this room but you are stuck in the mold of a yet-to-be-sanded dresser, that was yet-to-be-sanded for years, that has never been stained except by whiskey, that we always called the sideboard for lack of a better name.



Keep the rug right where it is. Move the chairs around. Buy big pillows and throw them on the rug. Move in a book shelf. Move the chairs around. And again. And again. Ignore the lack of table. Ignore the lack of toys. Cover it all up, all the broken bits with an orange cloth.


The rug is covered with a sticky blanket of used white tissues and bits of used white tissues. Sometimes I lie in there and scream out, "asshole, asshole, asshole. " I play sad, sad music in there and float. Someday I might put my shoes in there or a pool table. Tonight I'm leaving the tissues, because I might need to beat on them again. There is an imprint of my body in the sticky white blanket, a pocket of sticky clouds where I lay my head. The doors are slamming over and over again from the wind and I let them.



Hang wrought iron towel rack. Throw away old shampoo. Water plant. Move plant. Water plant. Move plant back to the same dusty spot.


The roaches are back. I had to chop a head off with a shampoo bottle the other morning and no one was there to hear my screaming. (Not true, not true, not true. I silent screamed, because I didn't know if I could wake him up. I didn't want to be disappointed by him not coming to rescue me.) He scurried, I pounded. I got the willies, he ran. He paused, I caught him. He's dead now.



Throw away that fucking television. Throw away that fucking telephone with its really loud fucking ringer. Move the furniture around until the vacuum will fit between everything. Hang photos. Dust. Sit.


There is no call and response in here anymore. There really never was: Marco. ___. Marco. ___. But now there is no shouting, no loud loud booming, and no shouts that weren't shouted either.

I'm not hiding anymore. I've been keeping track of things to share with you someday. Little tic marks on the walls. From far away it looks like I am trying to cover the walls with streaks of black, but squint in closer. I've hung pictures of my family and written bold sentences in red across the walls below those pictures. Things they tell me to remember when I miss you.



Buy new sheets. Move bed up against the wall. Get rid of the un-Feng Shui mirror. Insert statue of a goddess. Insert Santa Barbara candles. Sleep.






Story Chain No. 1
Story Chain No. 2
Story Chain No. 3


I found that dead baby bird under your dresser when I moved your dresser out. I know you tried to be its birdie savior and maybe for a minute you thought it might have worked. There are things you will find out about this particular room in my house. These things are going to hurt your feelings. I think about them as rolled-up quarters.



Kristen Nelson

Kristen Nelson writes short prose and prose poetry. She has work recently published or forthcoming in Quarter After Eight, Cranky Literary Journal and you are here. She is a founder and the Executive Director of Casa Libre en la Solana, a community writing and writers' residency center in Tucson, Arizona.