MRB Chelko




even an icepack’s touch feels hot
given time my husband thinks
human brains be always rounding
to the nearest five pains itch burn ache
shiver sting he come
home with milk and prunes
for the baby with beers for us from the corner
the bag slung over his shoulder
fresh kill I never loved
but knew a man once well
who wished to die young and beautiful
and alone and soon instead turned
to guts in the crush of a sports car
he survived made two babies
wears a fat-toothed grin
in photos we used to think alike
like I can shut my smile down on a dime
and instant-curdle anyone I learned that trick
young practiced on strangers in the local mall
watched as they shrunk into fetal postures
it felt the same as I feel now watching my daughter
crush a bubble conjured by her lips




a wound not fatal echo as in
not the real thing deny deny the warmth
of the bathroom the ache of shriveled
foot skin record of the president’s
dismal past year unread to dress
in the bedroom in the dark without
waking anyone my breath a whole ‘nother body
exiting the seed of a tomato spilt
on the floor looking seriously bloody regular screams
of love from the stairwell 2am union of
Mr. Magnum Wrapper and Ms. Discarded Roach
sex in the city Emily wrote I want you
to lay me down in the moss on an envelope
William said there’s a country to cross you will find
in your eye a whole new holocaust photographic proof and
in another part of the world a collection of essays
on marriage makes the news such suffering and then
the usual astonishment it works the equation
love plus love what you fear
William said will never go away its easy we just slit your cheeks
on both sides and pack synthetic bone beneath
this membrane the surgeon explained rotating on the big expensive screen
an image of my skull I’m going to call you
right now you’d better get over here


MRB Chelko is the recipient of a 2013 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Manhattations. Her work has appeared in numerous chapbooks and journals – current and forthcoming publications include: Anti-, Birdfeast, Poetry International, Revolver, Vinyl Poetry, and Washington Square Review. She holds an MFA in Poetry from The University of New Hampshire and lives in Central Harlem.


Read more by MRB Chelko:

Poem in The Ampersand Review
Poem at Revolver
Poem at Anti-