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Dead Poets

Author Biography
Poetry By
  C.E. Nichols

Published on: 2/20/2014
She said

She said you said this place
was ten times better then the last one
and I wondered did you mean
the mental ward
where they forced you to eat
and take pills for the delusions
did you mean home
where you screamed at the man
who brought you food twice a day
and escorted you gently to the

Or maybe you mean
the last place you lived
in your mind
which was really
this place.
This morning.

Published on: 2/17/2014
Navigating the Hasty Waters

I navigate the hasty waters of
"Grandpa's dead" from my
spot on saggy orange couch cushions.
A spring pokes me but I don't dare move.

My bird thighs end in bent knobs.
I can hear them clatter as they
knock together
under my scratchy plaid skirt.

Like Grandpa, I am skeletal.
I bite my lip to hold back a laugh.
I wish I had an oar that would
take me down the river, out of here.

Or I could be a priestess, poling the Nile,
sending off a departed king. Instead,
I roll knee fuzz underneath my fingers
and scratch a skateboard scab.

I keep looking at everyone else.
Where are the instructions
on what you are supposed to do
when someone dies.

Apparently it involves casseroles.
And wrinkled people that smell like
something left too long in a closet.

I snort.

"It's okay to cry." Mom says.
She and Grandma snuffle in the
corner. Make the sign of the cross.

I cast covert glances around the room,
look for clues on grieving.
As if I was the death detective.

But I'm wide-eyed at the everyday feel
in my chest. Weeks later,
someone hands me a quarter, and
my eyes feel funny. Then,

I feel a gush, a rain gutter on my hands.
I swallow back big loud waves.
I think I might drown,
here on the pea green carpet.

Mother sneers. She calls my grief a show.
When actually it's the right time
and the place safe
for my chest to fill up with goodbye.

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