Three Poems by Teisha Twomey

Mem­ory of a Pool Shark

You told me I was a good shot,
the same way you praised me

when I knocked that eight ball
into the cor­ner pocket before you could.

I had to call them out loud,
when the game got too close.

We’d prac­tice in a local pool hall
where I was allowed

free refills of Shirley Tem­ples
and as many quar­ters as I could carry

to the juke­box. On the week­ends
we’d take on a team of barfly townies,

in some pub over the moun­tain.
They’d see that pool cue towering

over my summer-sun lit hair, wide eyes
bat­ting and fig­ure it was a father humoring

a daugh­ter, an easy enough steal.
Then, I’d scratch on the break, miss

the first cou­ple high balls, warm­ing
up the way you’d taught me. Soon,

we’d both bring it home, bank­ing shots
off the sides, behind our backs, watching

the dropped jaws fall as I’d tighten up
on those angles and sink one shot

after another. Then, I would smile
my toothy grin, my tiny face-up palm,

demand­ing they pay up, fair and square,
watch­ing the greasy bills pil­ing into it.

You’d lean back then, grin­ning beneath
a han­dle­bar mus­tache, saying

Girl, you done good. I wanted to know
if win­ning would always be so easy,

aim­ing with one eye closed,
the other focused on a ball or bird

still in flight, some shot
I was born to sink.


Lamen­ta­tion of the Mouse

We were only crawl­ing inside to get warm,
still those traps went off all night. We heard

each equi­lib­rium break­ing, those springs com­ing
loose, ham­mers falling, the splin­ter­ing of spinal

columns, skele­tal axis’ sev­ered. Don’t you recall
the shat­ter of bones and mar­row as each soft body

gave way? They were pinned every night. Tonight
that bar caught your tiny foot so tight the skin

was wrenched from the bone. You could have chewed
your own leg off. Had you really no choice to scuttle

that way? That gory plank towed around,
before you finally bled out beneath the rock­ing chair.

That’s where they hid the peanut but­ter and cheese.
You knew bet­ter, than the tod­dlers and puppies

that came later. I imag­ined those wires snap­ping closed,
the stilted mon­strosi­ties like stiff wooden louses.

Louses on mouses, remem­ber­ing the shift­ing of dishes,
the nib­bling. Once, I star­tled the man in his sleep.

When he sprang from his bed, I flew through the air.
I only needed some bed­ding, but expected

some­thing sooner, always with the break of spine
and neck, a swift and lucky way to die. One day,

you’ll drag your­self room room to room, until you bleed
out, just like the ani­mal you were born to be. They will

just throw your velvety-hide out the near­est win­dow.
Tonight will be dif­fer­ent. Some­one will turn on a light

and you won’t be able to hide by scur­ry­ing
from coun­ter­top and into the breadbox.


The Secret to Survival

You never put all your eggs in one bromeliad
or counted your tad­poles before they’d hatched,
or hinged your faith on that, the bud­ding bulge

where pro­trud­ing limbs had begun to bud.
You were too bewil­dered by their fragility
and escaped into the wil­lows to watch

their slaugh­ter from a safe dis­tance. Did you ever feel
inept, even momen­tar­ily, hat­ing the jagged edges
of your­self as you real­ized lily pad blos­soms were fleshier

than you had ever been, more equipped to nur­ture?
No. You planted your­self on the bank across the way,
to watch the lat­est brood rav­aged, the way they went

opaque in the sun. With­out miss­ing a beat, you laid
a hun­dred more eggs in their place, coolly replaced
each casu­alty. So method­i­cally indifferent

to the bear­ing, such bequeathed redun­dancy of ori­gin,
the cloudy masses you no longer iden­ti­fied with.
You expelled one foamy batch after another, the latest

one indis­tin­guish­able from the last, able to afford
such reck­less gra­vid­ity with­out pause. Then you sculled
at the edge of them as well, keep­ing one idle eye prying

on the wretched prospects which rarely shat­ter­ing
into real­ity. Those fluky odd­balls emerged lack­ing lus­ter,
dusky-grey blobs that wag­gled unremit­tingly. You objected

to this, their slack build, prim­i­tive tail, poorly devel­oped
gills. The arm­less, the tail­less, the tongue-less state
embar­rassed you. You resented their inabil­ity to scream

out as the heron swal­lowed a dozen flank­ing sib­lings,
the ones hid­ing at the under­belly of float­ing grasses.
You were privy to the way those bod­ies grew

tapered with time. Those few endur­ing crea­tures
who’d begun to feed off the yolk of their own insides.
It was like watch­ing a thing give birth to itself,

a grad­ual over­ture towards beauty as nature’s for­mula
took hold, evok­ing bal­anced ratios of pro­por­tion within
each body of the sta­tic lagoon. The lucky ones,

still appear like unpre­dictable neigh­bors, plant­ing
them­selves at the water’s edge. These few will prove
fruit­ful; match­ing the pitch­forked precision

with which you har­poon dam­selflies. Every cold-blooded
bull­frog on that fringe will swell with pride, each upturned
snout aimed at the heav­ens, much obliged at a chance to savor

this res­o­nance; the croak­ing of each doomed crea­ture
which has begun to huff and puff, rel­ish­ing in the gut­tural
calls of cop­u­la­tion, esteemed by the impossibility

of exis­tence, that all the self-worth they’ve gulped down,
comes up at once, as they deem their own death rat­tle
as the only mir­a­cle, worth croon­ing lul­la­bies over.

Ode to the Harvestmen                   

Flies are resilient, appear­ing when they sense the peaches
going ripe, grow­ing yeast. You, a microbe, eat­ing the fruit,

and spit­ting up alco­hol. This was how I envi­sioned you,
step­fa­ther, appear­ing past bed­time, rolling in like larvae,

smelling like mag­gots wrig­gling in their own frothy rot,
stink­ing like a sour mop in the cor­ner of my room.

You’d hatch at twi­light, ruby eyes glow­ing, cherry snout
root­ing in the kitchen, seek­ing fer­men­ta­tion, bee to honey.

I gath­ered daddy lon­glegs in the mud­room, clutched
each one in my hands, amass­ing my own secret army

of arach­nids, housed beneath wine glasses, try­ing to fat­ten them
with slugs, cater­pil­lars. They drew in all six limbs through

gnashed jaws, wash­ing before every meal, and soon molted,
split­ting open, one by one, tak­ing twenty min­utes to drag

their springy legs from old cas­ings. emerg­ing hun­gry.
I put those trans­formed troops in a bucket, watched

the way they gath­ered, linked limbs together. Small,
velvety-red clover mites clung to some. This is how

I envi­sioned my mother, the way she hung on too tightly.
Step­fa­ther, I wanted to rip your parts off like a stepchild

tear­ing the wings off a pest then watch­ing them scam­per,
flight­less on a win­dowsill, drop­ping you, wingless

into the teem­ing pail of preda­tors, mum­bling
“Good­night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

IMG_1981Teisha Twomey is cur­rently work­ing on her MFA in Poetry at Les­ley Uni­ver­sity in Cam­bridge, MA and interns at Wilder­ness House Press. Teisha’s work has appeared in Ibbet­son Street , Fried Chicken and Cof­fee, The Santa Fe Lit­er­ary Review, Metazen, Poet­ica and she recently was selected for pub­li­ca­tion for the upcom­ing "Wasn't That Spe­cial?" Anthol­ogy.



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