Author Archives: lisamccolgan

Go. Lightly.

I try, and fail, to imagine what it’s like –
To not know that you don’t overturn a planter
on the kitchen counter. To have no way of
summoning the words to explain why you did it.

There is dirt, dirt everywhere, and she is
fixated on the barely-visible cookie particle
between the stove and the fridge. She
can’t stop wanting to get rid of the television –

the assurances that it will be removed when
there is sufficient manpower to do it
soothes for only a minute, perhaps two,
and then it’s back to the why. Why is it there.

Her world is shrinking. She has a vague memory
of being active in the morning, of making things
look better, but cannot remember the simple
actions of reaching under the sink for the

cleaning supplies. Her sleeves are always
stretched out, sopping wet. She moves
a knick-knack, a framed picture, then moves
it back again. This is “cleaning.” Hence –

the dirt piled on the kitchen counter. I think,
who knows what she would have done with
it if we hadn’t come up here just now?
She
may have put it back in the planter. She may

have tried to put it down the disposal. I have
so many trust issues now, and yet she trusts
me implicitly; she obediently sits and eats her
toast as we try to manipulate the dirt into

a Stop & Shop bag. She drinks her juice and
marvels at the cleanliness of the counter when
we have finished. And I can’t get mad. This
is not her fault. She doesn’t know any better
.

And this is what I simply cannot understand.

What I do understand is the power of words.
Not please don’t dump dirt all over the counter,
but Maybe the older you grow and the less easy
it is to put thought into action, maybe that’s why

it gets all locked up in your head and becomes
a burden.
I am reading Capote to her. In her
well life, he was a favorite. She listens, rapt,
laughs at everything you’re supposed to laugh

at, like she remembers having read it the first
time, and then again. And again. Golightly’s
frantic monologues soothe us. And in these
moments together, there is understanding.

We’re An American(a) Band

We used to play electro-punk,
Then tried out zydeco-funk.
But none of these things got us signed.
Another genre we did find!

We did an image overhaul,
And donned some dirty overalls.
We lifted from Neil Young’s “Harvest.”
Let’s go into a gang chorus:

Hey hey hi-yi hey-oh!
Ki-yi-yi yippee yi yay-oh!
Stomp your feet and yell oh ho!
That’s the way these songs all go!

We found a guy who played great fiddle.
And dabbled in washboards a little.
But he would not grow a beard.
Our interest in him disappeared.

We sing of backroads and old barns,
And spin our country bumpkin yarns.
Except that we all met at Choate.
But – hey, to some that’s quite remote.

A Prose Poem Inspired In Part By This Incredibly Academic Book I’m Reading About Zombies

Why fear the zombie? Zombie – uniquely American contribution
to the Movie Monster Canon. Zombie is whatever we’re secretly
afraid of at any given time. Reverse colonization. Cold War. Terrorism.
Biological weapons. Loss of autonomy. Loved ones turning on you.
Having the entire infrastructure upon which you rely cease to function.
Who’s going to come fix your dishwasher now? Not the zombie.

Or perhaps zombie scares us because we know that deep inside,
we are zombie. We either have it already within us, or could turn
on a dime if we’re exposed. We look upon our friends and family
with dead, blank eyes. They are no longer the ones with whom
we play Cards Against Humanity, the ones whose birthdays we
remember at the last minute, prompting us to quickly fire off an

email with an Amazon gift card. They cannot push our buttons
because they installed them. Unless they’re taking a pick-axe
to our skulls, they cannot hurt us. They are food: gristle and
sinew to be masticated and never digested, because zombies
don’t digest. Zombies don’t surf. Zombies don’t shout over
cubicle walls about what happened on last night’s “Scandal,”

nor is there that one zombie who will always whine, “Um…SPOILERS?!”
This is frightening.

After “Dining” At A Chain Restaurant.

Next time,
please check
with the kitchen

and see if
it’s possible
for them to bring

me a brick
of lard and a
salt lick. Because

I can’t
imagine that
would make me feel

any worse than I do now.

80s Love Song Cento

Happy Valentine’s Day, oldsters. – L.M.

You say I’m a dreamer.
We’re two of a kind.
Who could heal what’s never
been as one?
I’m counting the steps
to the door of your heart.

The message is perfectly simple;
the meaning is clear:
The wisdom of the fool won’t set you free.
You can feel the cushion
but you can’t have a seat.
How do you say you’re okay
to an answering machine?

We’ll be the Pirate Twins again.
Your lips a magic world.
To look at you, and never speak –
the ghost in you, she don’t fade.

You always said we’d still be friends someday.

The Jordache Look

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Nothing ever fit inside of you; a
hairbrush would’ve been asking far too much
of a bag that was a bag in theory
only – oh, it had a strap and unzipped,
but it was understood that conveyance
was secondary. This was appearance.
We had to have at least one. Having more –
well, that was optimal. We could match them
to our outfits (ohmigod, like, so cool).
I had you, just you, only you, powder
blue with one strap held by a safety pin,
because you carried more weight than the rest,
because I couldn’t not stuff you with things.
Because I couldn’t get the hang of “cool.”

What’s Cooking? I Smell A Rat!

So, if you’re on Facebook, you might be seeing a story going around about an abandoned cruise ship that’s drifting around the Atlantic. Only it’s not completely abandoned…it’s allegedly filled with diseased, cannibal rats.

Now, killjoys are responding to this with some Smithsonian article pooh-poohing the existence of the cannibal rats. Some of us don’t care. In fact, some of us are TOTALLY THRILLED about the very idea that such a pleasure ship might exist. To that end, a Facebook Fan Page has been created for what we are calling the Rat Boat. And at least one of us thinks that Disney/Pixar should GET ON THIS and make a musical animated extravaganza. I am offering my services to write the lyrics for this. Here is what I’m thinking for the BIG OPENING NUMBER:

RAT 1:
We live upon this ghostly ship
Adrift on the high seas.
No pesky human beings on board –
We do what we please!

RAT 2:
The problem with no people, though,
Is that we’re short on grub.
We’re scroungers with nothing to scrounge:
Therein lies the rub.

RAT 3:
No bread, no cheese, no bits of fruit.
We’d eat that if we could.
And so our ratty shipmates
Start looking pretty good.

CHORUS:
What’s cooking? I smell a rat!
So have a seat! Let’s chew the fat!
Just don’t wonder: “Who was that?”
What’s in this dish? I smell a rat!

You can thank me later, Bob Iger.