MAD COW ON MAGNOLIA HILL (editor’s choice)


That mad cow way up high  
on Magnolia Hill listening. 
Brown-eyed, beautiful, strange dark red hair.  
Peel, pull, slip, crunch – unaware  
of the tender half-bloomed magnolias that 
crush between her milky-white teeth.  

Where have you gone?  
Your dilapidated body sits anchored next to mine,  
the kitchen table not meant for only two.  
Us two.  
Saccharine words drip from rotting lips in a sickly whir.  
Starving hopes, desperate ears hanging, hands kneading needing – 
the polar bi-products of your ill mind. 
But reality forges on,  
the façade  
like the brittle bone in your hip.  
I want to help you. The real you.  
But it’s hard to find someone  
when you cannot find yourself. 

That mad cow past the fence 
below the valley deep.  
Thistles mar her once-soft hide.  
With coyotes she wails  
confused — crying out. 

Why do you say that? 
Please stop, you’re scaring me!  
I try to tell myself this isn’t you. 
Mama tries too.  
At night she lays awake making  
excuses for your decaying soul  
But the solidity of swollen truth  
– it’s hot, and fresh, and loud – 
expanding veins, inducing shivers,   
preventing belief.  
I hear the vile words you whisper at her.  
They scream
Come in child look close… 
Ha!  Do not be deceived  
that is not art on the walls but  
imprints of hatred  
beneath glistening paint.  
Halls: they echo they echo 
I hear.  

That mad cow way down the silver creek, 
through frothy water she 
follows indecisive minnows’ paths.  

Why are you leaving?  
Sister, come back!  
I miss your brown eyes and fanatic laughs.  
I miss your shaky hands and gentle hugs.  
I know we don’t share a father but 
these words – these words  
that flow so easily from our tongues  
we share in the ichor surging through our veins  
– the blood that our mama gave us. 

Sister, I know you are sick,  
I know you can’t help it, 
but I am here, please try 

. . . no? 

Mad cow way up high, 
on Magnolia Hill liste–  

Not listening anymore.