Two Poems                                                                             by Lannie Stabile

Arguing the Etymology of "OK" with Someone 
Who's Always Been Fine
I tell her it started when I was six years old: the fear of spark, 
the fear of smoke,  the fear of burning  down with the house. 
I am:  the walls  containing a  kitchen fire, soup on the stove, 
Mom   forgetting   to   turn  off  the  burner.   The  ham  bone 
crisping.  The   navy  beans   shriveling. A girl, crawling on an 
empty belly, pressing her hand against every door, searching 
for safety. Waiting to be engulfed.
She says   I’ve   experienced  trauma. That my amygdala still 
thinks I am six and trapped and inhaling darkness. 
I tell her   Ronald  McDonald came  to  my elementary school 
and  taught me  how to  fight fires.  And by  fight, I  mean run 
away.  When  I  told my mother  Ronald singed  a bible just to 
show  how  flammable everything  truly can  be,  she  did not 
believe me.  My mother  never  believed me where men were 
She says I must be misremembering the part about the bible. 
I tell her I have never been safe. Before the house fire. Before 
my  amygdala  developed. Before  Carl  and James and Chris 
and  Brian  and  Benny and  Michael and  David  and Paul and 
Ron  and  Abdul  and  Merle and Andrew and Timmy and Billy 
and all the other men who scorched everything I’ve ever held 
faith in.  How can I be  when even this conversation is tinder?
She says we’ve made good progress and she will see me next 
I tell her her clothes smell like smoke.

Self Portrait with Cremains
Google   tells   me   cremation     takes  4  to 15 
business   days.  So,  when  the   funeral  home 
asks   me   if   I  want   to  be   present   for   the 
I  imagine  a spare cot  in the crematorium. The 
pillow hard. The blanket thin. 
I    imagine     breakfast,    lunch,    and    dinner. 
Blackened  toast   three  times  a  day for  three 
weeks. Because   pot  roast  just  doesn’t seem 
appropriate when  your mother  is  carbonizing.
I  imagine  a  thick  word   search  for  company. 
Circling        terms       like      aftercare,        urn, 
columbarium, furnace.
I  imagine   waking    up  in  the   middle  of  the 
night,  bladder  full,   the glow  of  the chamber 
lighting my steps to the bathroom.
I imagine  calling off work.   Sorry. I won’t be in 
again today. They’re pulverizing the chunks of 
bone that didn’t burn.

Lannie Stabile (she/her), a queer Detroiter, is the winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Competition in Poetry and a back-to-back semifinalist for the Button Poetry Chapbook Contest. Lannie was also named a 2020 Best of the Net finalist. Her debut poetry collection, Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus, was published in 2021 by Cephalopress. Her fiction debut, Something Dead in Everything, is now out with ELJ Editions. Find Lannie Stabile on Twitter @LannieStabile or @NotALitMag, where she throws random writing contests and open mics.

Guest Editor Latorial Faison is the author of Mother to Son, the trilogy collection, 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History, and other titles. A graduate of UVA and VA TECH, she recently, completed doctoral studies at Virginia State University and published The Missed Education of the Negro: An Examination of the Black Segregated Education Experience in Southampton County. This Furious Flower Poetry Center fellow, Pushcart nominee, and Tom Howard Poetry Prize winner has been published in Artemis Journal, West Trestle Review, Obsidian: Literature and Art in the African Diaspora, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, and elsewhere. Forthcoming work, Mama Was a Negro Spiritual, was a semi-finalist for The CAVE CANEM POETRY PRIZE. Faison is married, has three sons, and teaches at Virginia State University.


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