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2 poems

by Madeline Kelly

Madeline Kelly is from Wisconsin and is a graduate of the Creative Writing department at UW Madison. She is published in Illumination and on, and was the recipient of the 2017 Ron Wallace Poetry Thesis Prize at the University of Wisconsin. She currently lives in Chicago, where she sells antiques and cooks with lots of butter. She is on Instagram @madhoneymagic.

I Peel an Orange While Standing Under the Showerhead —


the first I’ve rinsed anything

off myself in days. The segments I suck

in slow motion, water diluting the

sharpness. Each meaty sliver


runs down my wrist, onto my stomach,

thigh, swirls around my feet. Our juices

mingle with lavender soap and curled

black hairs, regurgitated back up the

almost-clogged drain. Under my

fingernails the chalky pith softens,


fertilizer. I rub it into my roots.

Forgo shampoo for a day with fewer

strings. The jasmine I wear at my

pulse rises off my skin like wet

death, a sweetness to cover something

rotten. A lover at the height of

viciousness. The waking up into

memory is a weapon cloaked in

velvet. In the morning you get to

hold it in your hands.

Under Cover of Night, Like Always


I saw him walk past my

window. He who

takes and does not give

back. He who holds

crime in his mouth, masks

the stench with breath-

mints and details about

his mother. His mother

who loves dogs and bakes

bread and observes

religion. He whose wings

graze the ceiling, where he

tethered my tongue to the

crown molding. He whose house

drips with dew. With trust me,

baby. The morning grass

wraps its fingers green

around my ankles. The telephone

booths lock from the outside.

The priest says forgiveness

is a warm bed. I think to myself

what is forgiveness if not erasing

a mattress from memory.

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