Dana Koster

I Don’t Like Mondays

Starting Monday
I’ll cut out gluten I’ll cut
in line cut two holes
in a paper bag
not for my eyes
but for yours
as of Monday I don’t eat
processed foods I don’t eat
at all I have undergone a process
that allows me to subsist on ghosts
I mean to say I eat only the spirits
of the men I’ve ghosted
as of Monday
I’ll steal away I’ll steal the remote I’ll be a remote
possibility like Blockbuster
closing like Borders closing like borders
closing like Tower Records closing
like being shot from a tower
at the University of Texas
on a Monday like being shot
at a place you take shots
while a man yells
get out of my country
the ghosts tell me
I need to stop it’s always
too soon to talk
they say welcome
to the gun show
they say everything beautiful
deserves to have a good time



          an easy to remember acronym for responding to an active school shooter

The kindergartners have trouble          keeping still.
Mrs. M—          pretends to

                    the authorities while I


                              doors          draw blinds          remind
                              the children to lie flat.

There could be
                    shattered glass
                                                            we tell them. Be sure
          you keep your head
                                                            on a colored carpet square.

I could tell you about the desert
                                                            they leave
at those knee-high workspaces
                                                            caramel table tops sown
with ripped paper cacti
                                                            scraps of saguaro blooms.

Or the way my son’s
                                   shoulder-length hair          flares
                                                            around him

                              in a
                    Tesla          coil

                                                  The static          it turns out
is just his hair          trying to get as far away
          from                    itself
          as possible.

But it’s not beautiful
                                        obedience. It’s
          bumped heads
                                                  he’s laying on my sleeve

while the PA system
                                                            an active shooter is on the way.

I remember climbing under desks at their age
          threading my hands
                              across my neck
          for earthquake drills

          a janitor plays the part of a Bad Man
rattling classroom doors
                              and Mrs. M—
                              how she’d


                              the attack
                                        if he got in.

A.L.I.C.E.          advises

          in extreme circumstances          it’s best          to


put          as          much          distance                    as you can

between yourself
                                                  and your attacker.

That          like earthquakes
it’s a not a matter          of whether the slip
          will happen
                                        but how close
                                        to the epicenter
                                        your children are.


Dana Koster is the author of Binary Stars (Carolina Wren Press, 2017). She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow. Her poems have appeared in EPOCH, Indiana Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Cincinnati Review, MUZZLE, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Collagist and many others. She lives in Modesto, California with her husband and two sons, where she works as a wedding photographer.