Karen Donovan

Please Get Me My Godling Nebulizer

Our ideas were terrible and we were all at fault,
snapping our brains like dust mops at every passing airfoil,
taking subtraction lessons from the nation’s biggest meniscus.

It’s like a drive-by backbone-ectomy, mumbled the undercoat
in line ahead of me. We retaliated with mass visualization,
drew up chairs, placed our hands palms down on the tabula rasa

and sweated visual purple. A wheatear’s tenderness witnessed
to my throat. My neighbor confessed to ordering fairy shrimp
in kingcup, to thermic doo-wop in the shower, to wishing

his extremities would juvenesce. We were breathing in rivulets,
entering zona pellucida without broadband coverage,
but when we opened our uncials the world was still here

and a quorum of malefactors were making off with the jollyboats,
a vexatious anticlimax, as a famous hymnologist
in an infamous sentence once called an extraneous Amen.


Throw the Deadbolt, Darlene

It is my shift at The Bureau.
I step in wearing an oilcloth coat,
yank my key from the lock.

One hallway bulb glows peachlike
in midair then fails the imitation.
It is a night I dream of my father,

whom I miss now more than ever.
My best friend departs the territory,
carrying enough seed to start over.

At dinner, none of the hotplates will work.
Periwinkles gleam in a faraway bay.
Our children witness indelible events,

a few umbrellas blow out.
Still we seek a faithful copy of reality,
right down to the make-believe ending.

We offer the prisoner an airy suite,
fresh tacks for his hands and his feet.
We tie prayers in strips torn from our shirts,

the shirts we were reportedly born in.
So I do know which desk it is.
My chair is already warm.


Karen Donovan’s Fugitive Red won the Juniper Prize for Poetry and was published by University of Massachusetts Press. Her new collection of poems, Your Enzymes Are Calling the Ancients, won the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor's Choice Award from Persea Books and is forthcoming in 2016. She served as co-editor of ¶: A Magazine of Paragraphs, a journal of short prose published by Oat City Press. Recent work is coming up in Web Conjunctions, Tinderbox, Five Points, and Conduit. She is employed as a writer in Providence.