Poetry Issue #67

my lover is left-handed

I read poems about death & think of my lover.
Susan Browne wrote, “2500 left-handed people
are killed annually from using right-handed products.”(1)
My lover is left-handed. He could be one of them.

The man already wears a CPAP, chokes nuggets
of pills for diabetes at 38. Where’s the fairness in that?
Ever the optimist, I imagine middle age as 50. Women
in my family become centenarians or nearly so. But him?

My lover doesn’t stand a chance. He has high blood
pressure. Has already had an overnight hospital stay
when a carful of teenagers T-boned him. (He can’t
help it.) I didn’t know him then & wasn’t at his sickbed.

I’m younger, but not by much & I take pills too, watch
what I eat. A car could spear me out of living & my age
wouldn’t matter. It’d be just my comeuppance: haughty
woman believing she had miles to go before eternal sleep.

What I mean is, I’ve lived a third of my years starving––
& that’s if time is generous––not knowing such famine
could be quelled. I don’t know how long we have to love,
or read poems shrouded in one another’s limbs. Only that

my lover is left-handed & defies the sinister with his kiss.

(1) From “If Not Now, When?” in Susan Browne’s poetry collection, Zephyr.

small delights
after Ross Gay

I leave your bed to collect trinkets, though I tell you
I’m going to work. Little things: a first date at the coffee shop,
a whimsical gravel rock, a PT Cruiser bedecked like a disco ball,
a cat crossing the street on jaunty paws. The world is full
of small delights.

                             Still, the leaving is reluctant–
What I wouldn’t give to lay my head on your chest
and curl my legs in yours, pretending clocks don’t exist,
we don’t need money, and the boss won’t mind.
Shake our fists at errands and hunger pangs.

                                                                                       But then
how would I curate the world when you’re not there?
How would I see the little things (the poster for lost keys,
the ticker tape of autumn leaves, the plastic dinosaur
dropped in the parking lot) and think:
                                      I can’t wait to tell you this.


I imagine her: fucking exhausted,
trying to shield her eyes from that damn
too-bright star, regretting the whole ordeal
when she realized she was no exception
to the rule about painful childbirth.
& of course, she’d had a son when
what she really wanted was a daughter.
It had been men that got her into this mess
& she was surrounded by them. Three
more had shown up, not even friends
of her husband’s, bearing their inane gifts.
What use does a baby have for gold?
It might be soft metal, but he can’t teethe
on that. & frankincense & myrrh, really?
Were they trying to tell her she stank
of afterbirth? & her husband, fucking helpless,
squeezing her hand too tight & trying
not to faint, as though he’d been the one
to push out a screaming infant on
an itching, prickling haybale; no place
to put the child but the horse’s box
of oats. She could’ve thrown herself down
a flight of stairs if there wasn’t the death
sentence of broken bones. She could’ve
drank some of the special tea sold
in the market by women who knew
their bodies better than any man could.
& if that goddamn donkey bellows in her ear
one more time, she’ll lose it. She’ll fucking lose it.
But what good would that do––when on
the day of her son’s birth she was already made
a supporting role in his life, when no one
would even know who she was if it weren’t
for him, as if her own life didn’t matter––
when she’d already lost so much of herself.

the great falastini

If it was magic tricks you wanted, why didn’t you just say so?
Wait until you see the rock become a “bomb” mid-throw.
That one doesn’t go over as well at parties
as turning water into wine.
Oh, to be as powerful as they think we are.

Speaking of water, walking on it is easy
when the moon draws shallow the sea.
Nowadays we don’t walk on water, we just drown.
We’ll say it’s an optical illusion, the same as using a rifle
as a telescope to see targets instead of people.

Our shell-shocked men shot through
don’t rise in three days like they used to.
Riddling us with bullets prevents that whole
coming-back-to-life thing. (So inconvenient.)
My, how we pine for the good old days.

Too bad everyone’s favorite Palestinian
was from the last millennium.
After all that begetting was begotten
in the beginning, it’s been downhill since then.
Genocide is such a buzzkill.

About genocide, have you heard the one
about how they harvest our organs so some
parts of us go on living to keep alive our murderers?
Necroviolence, necromancy, same difference.
It’s a good one, right? Destroy us so they can live.

Why would we saw a woman in a box in half
when we can’t stop them bulldozing our house?
Who has time to pull rabbits from hats
when there is shrapnel to yank from flesh?
We only entertain you when we’re dead.

By Mandy Shunnarah

Mandy Shunnarah (they/them) is an Alabama-born, Palestinian-American writer who now calls Columbus, Ohio, home. Their essays, poetry, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Entropy Magazine, The Normal School, Heavy Feather Review, and others. Their first book, Midwest Shreds, is forthcoming from Belt Publishing. Read more at