Jul/Aug 2003 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Julie King


In the dream,

the bunny nestles in a beach towel inside
the Kinny's shoebox. Don de-limbed
the mother with the lawnmower,
I hear
my mom tell the neighbor lady as they sip
Tab on the stoop. He had to end her
with a brick.
My mom wears lipstick that leaves
frosted pink on the can. Her red hair is backcombed
into a pouf, and she smokes a lot of Pall Malls,
immune to the cancer that will kill her.

In the next part, I scream I forgot to feed
the rabbit! It's been twenty years!

I push at my husband sleeping soundly next
to me. What rabbit he says in his sleep
in my dream, and then I'm thirteen again
and skinny, holding the bunny against my flat
chest, the doll bottle bubbling with warmed
milk. Droplets form on the tiny hairs around
the bunny's silly little mouth, and I wipe them
away with my thumb, inhaling sweet bunny
head. I think heaven is worth dying for.
And then I'm back pushing my husband again,
sobbing, oh, the rabbit, the rabbit.

I wake myself with all the noise I'm making,
and I'm in bed, fat, alone, in the middle
of a summer night. My husband has left me,
lives in Dallas with my friend Trish.
My parents have been dead ten years.
But I'm crying for that rabbit, that stupid
tiny thing that died within a week,
choking on all that pretty milk.


Johnny, the neighbors are pulling

down their house again, brick by brick,
and the porch isn't safe anymore.

When we claimed this porch, you replaced
the missing boards, bolted down the railings,
and our first summer began. I believed
heaven was the glossy stretch, me leaning
back against your sunburned chest, you rolling
the silver hoop through my earlobe over and over.
Heaven was our yellow kitten rabbit-kicking
against my belly because I held her so tight,
and our Lucky Strikes burning to nothing while
the boys driving slow in their Cadillacs turned
up the bass, bopping their shiny heads.

The neighbor lady is shouting: you're good for
and I want to tell her: just don't say
the for nothing, and their house could rebuild
itself, one brick at a time. But I don't say anything,
Johnny. The wicker chair I bought long after you
left rocks empty from a yellow wind that says
a storm is coming, and I hope this storm carries
that chair away for once and for all.

The porch needs paint, the kitten is long dead,
smeared on the street by a Cadillac boy driving
slow, and I've been coughing hard and yellow
for awhile now. I'm immune to crying when I hear
about you from someone or another, that you've married
a girl who doesn't take it out on you on porches
when the summer sun burns itself out. But I don't believe
in any heaven, Johnny, not anymore, not for anything.


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