Three Poems

Kristy Bowen



At night, the fission loves us, lathers us over,

makes our teeth glow like  low watt lanterns in the dark of our beds.

This town is all carhops and canapés these days, the women

narrow waisted and waspish.  Oh nostalgia, we love it. 

Write letters to it in the green light of television sets.

Meanwhile, the  men set fire to the jukebox, the junior college,

the dead pigeons in the gutters of tract homes. 

Oh hope, oh love, we’re filled with sugar and seething

into our silk pantyhose. Our bodies as pristine as our

mother’s whites, flapping on clotheslines across the low hills.  

In an emergency,  above all else, keep calm. 

In an emergency, keep your tongue glued fast to the roof

            of your mouth to avoid screaming.

In an emergency––

 About the Writer
Split Lip Press

A writer and artist, Kristy Bowen is the author of several written and visual projects, including  major characters in minor films (Sundress, 2015) girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2014) and the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013).  She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio.




When his says father says boo, plutonium baby cries all night.

The milk gone bad, leaking and souring in the folds of his mother’s

nightgown. 3 am and the world glows with him, even now,

before the bombs, before the backyard barbecues and shiny

black sedans. Before the open mouth of his wanting grows

wider and wider and swallows everything not weighted down..

When he’s grown, he’ll take up with women named

Tina, or Charla, or Tiffany. Will tuck his shirts in and talk

about stock commodities.  Everyone loves a plutonium baby,

all new and shiny as the chrome on a brand new bicycle. 

As American as apple pie or insider trading.

He’ll twirl the scotch in his glass around and say things like

“Key West is a sauna this time of year..”

Those kind of manners could be lost or poisoned or dead

for all we know. His black shoes, shiny and sure of it.



It’s months before she can recite the alphabet backwards

again.  Birth dates.  The chemical equation for hydrogen peroxide.

All caught in the foggy nether than begins somewhere in the cerebellum. 

On the patio, all the bodies in bikinis float in a thin soup of chemicals 

and it’s all good, all gone,  all going to hell in an alligator handbag, she thinks,

her fingernails  flaking away like piecrust. These limbs loosening into ether. 

In the hospital, the sheets were white and precise. 

Her mind white and precise.  She clenches her jaw and meditates

on milk cartons, lined up single file on the store shelf.  The perfect slices

of bread dropping into the toaster. Scratches on her thighs and breasts

where the bees went in, and worse, where they demand to come out.