Oh, it was a nice time, shining and sparkling
and smiling beautiful people. We were celebrating something.
Curled now on my sofa, wrapped in a quilt
I drink organic, bitter coffee I ground myself in my electric machine
and brewed in another electric machine while toasting bread
in my other electric machine.
I turn on my laptop after swallowing painkillers
and brown eyes of orphans stare into mine,
darker squinting eyes of adults, brown faces and exploding
rubble behind them beneath headlines of chaos and large numbers
in a place I’d never heard of before a few months ago.
I should have slept in.
My head pounds.
I’ve never had such a headache, but then I did have those cocktails
last night. It was an open bar after all
and we were celebrating something.
Too many pink desserts filled with too much sugar were
soft down my throat with butter and cream.
My stomach turns and twists.
The coffee is too strong.
My screen mentions the four-year anniversary
of that one school shooting
where the smallest of us were taken
away unbelievably small unbelievable heartbreak.
My head aches more and I am shivering even
with the quilt and coffee.
Perhaps a migraine. Perhaps I’ll turn the thermostat to warmer,
take a hot shower, lie on my bed.
I hope I can sleep this off.
I turn on the radio as my head drops into my feather pillow.
I hear there is oil spilling miles away
into rivers and the ice prevents proper clean-up.
How many black gallons I cannot imagine.
Perhaps it is only a small river that doesn’t feed
Skipping the shower because I am dizzy, I click
the voice off before it can say more
about people halfway around the world
are they waking or sleeping?
I wonder and close my eyes to sleep it off
The music and dancing last night
What was it we were celebrating?
Melanie Burdick lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her husband and children, and teaches writing at Washburn University.
Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).