Two Poems

by Marty McConnell

still life with prosecco and television

Distracted by the light
of the half dozen moons around you

I did not immediately notice
the woman you were eating, her smooth ears

disappearing, her shoulders, belly, her sober
knees. Something

happened, then something else, and then
I was dumb and in love

like it was my job. In the first act, we are introduced
to the hero who is also

the villainess. Which is to say, she’s actively engaged
in the process of destroying herself

which is the surest way to get saved. I’m a little
drunk, but try to keep up:

There’s a woman being eaten by a tiger. No, a lioness.
No, another woman until

there’s almost nothing left of her. It’s possible
the woman doing the consuming

is her mother, or herself. Time will tell. We have not yet
exhausted the narrative

possibilities. When a woman touches her hair
in conversation, it’s safe

to assume she is romantically and/or sexually
interested. Also her insecurities

may extend to the haircut her flamboyant stylist
convinced her was fabulous

but makes her feel like an astronaut’s wife. Also
her face is damaged

from smiling. If you’re wondering
if it hurts, it does.

At this point, it’s clear that the woman consuming
is not the mother

but it still could be the mirror. We have
not revisited the issue

of the moons, or the you. Oh, abstraction. Oh, direct
address, where

do we go from here. I learned from the television show<
“Millionaire Matchmaker”

not only that everything is for sale (which I already
knew) but that what matters most

is inventing a best self and being that one. Which is not
such bad advice

except that the best selves the matchmakers mean
always require highly gendered

and expensive cocktail attire. Still we have not talked
about the moons. Most planets

have moons. Most stars are dead before we’re ever
aware of them. The sun

is a star. Marlon Brando was a star until he got fat
and weird, and then he died

though I’m not sure about the dead part. He never
forgave James Dean for being dead

so pretty. Where are my t-shirts? he’d bellow
from the dressing room. Where

are my iconic comparisons? This despite every strong-
jawed promise being as much

“the next Brando”as 90210’s broken sensitive poetry
boy was touched

by incessant calls to be the next
Jimmy Dean.

Oh, Jimmy Dean. Oh sausage festival of almost. My guess
is, you would have liked

to retire. To have the option to fade, to feed your body
to the lion of obscurity

or trudge on set, limp limbs a-dragging, old dragon
making the PAs faint and quote

obscure scripts from the ‘60s. The moon is a dead
planet. Rock licking the light

off reflection, lazy mirror. The woman being consumed
is not reflective. Is dry as buried

bone. Here is a you, here the second act, conflict. The heroine
consuming her own arm, basted

in rose wine and spermicide. The arm is gamey and irregular
in texture. This will teach us

to take care of ourselves with greater fidelity. What
if you have to eat that arm

someday! we will cry, inducing bouts of exercise
or respite, depending

on taste. Foie gras requires the goose to be held very still
and fed endlessly. It’s illegal

in two states. In Chicago, it was banned, unbanned,
and banned again. Lipidosis

produces a liver violently appealing to the elite
palate. Fetish wears a number

of popular hats. The girl is not her mirror. The mother
is not the moon. The moon

is not Marlon Brando. The tiger is not an astronaut.
James Dean is not

Act III. In Act III, the knees enter a confessional.
the Millionaire Matchmaker

is there. Why love now? she asks. Indeed, we intone,
the lioness, the moon, me. Why

love now indeed.


white girl interrogates her own heart again

Shut the door. Outside, the newspapers fly themselves
to the stone and glass of this place until the light stops.
Come, my little contradictory several-chambered thudder.
Take the chair closest to the radiator. We love our small
comforts. Our lavender tea and quiet boulevard. No one
is blaming you for these. Soldiers in all wars lean into
their vices, and I know that you hate war. But war
is here. Is you. Is our brilliant city, on fire even
as we speak. Is a flag we take to the back porch
to wring out quietly, before family arrives.
So as not to talk about the blood. So as not
to discomfort those who made us. But heart, oh

heart. Discomfort is the weapon we bring to this
needful table. Without you, we are all statistic
or fist. Without you, more and more fire. Look
how the wind disturbs the curtains through
the closed window. Look how it finds a way in.


Photo credit

About Marty McConnell

Marty McConnell lives in Chicago, and received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and Mid-American Review. Her first full-length collection, wine for a shotgun, was published by EM Press.

Marty McConnell

Marty McConnell is online at