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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