It doesn’t matter if the boiler
threatens to blow like a demented pianist
and bees mass on the wall
into a Rorschach designed for psychos
and nobody answers the phone and
the room separates into two slightly
offset images that lure you into
the hallway that isn’t there
and this morning’s nightmare strands
you in a crowded public market
of caged body parts
and the stallkeepers don’t wear masks
but still all look identical
and when you turn on the TV
the hole where images should be
bubbles with cockroaches lurching
toward you with their giraffe lopes
and syrup drips down the wallpaper
to feed the rest of the pests
because you still have to stay alone
in your own lonely home so
you outline your feet with yellow paint
on the plank floor so you don’t move.
People always tell me don’t talk to strangers
as if I am my big red mistake. Remember how I
made caramel brownies and helped eat them
when the jerk dumped you? And, you, I rode
the bronco when you wanted the mild mare
although in truth I was more scared than you.
All of you, am I the only one who felt pity
for a wolf on crutches in the middle of nowhere?
My mother taught me to be kind, to be helpful,
not to ignore the slow or less than able, the ones
who are different, the needy, so I asked what
he needed from me and he misunderstood.
My story is not so very different from yours
and yours and yours and yours and yours.
Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God (Aldrich), was winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, Glass, Verse Daily, American Journal of Poetry, Broad Street, and other journals.