Daniela Olszewska

the trouble w/empty containers

before going to bed, you spray all yr friends w/glue made out of hooves + horns. they die quick but painful deaths. you spend the night dreaming that you’re snorkeling in the gulf of mexico + meremaids are giving you high-fives w/the bottoms of their mermaid tails.

you wake up to find that every previously empty container in your apartment is now sprouting a new friend: teacups, bags from the grocery store, the mopwater bucket, that plastic lining of what used to be a vanillacherry-scented candle, pill bottles leftover from last year’s breastbone surgery, some of late aunt susan’s striped + polka-dotted hatboxes, yr bellybutton (the first time in yr life you wish you were an outie…), a doll carriage, a cracked piggybank + a purple suede purse yr dad sent you on yr brother’s birthday (b/c, lately, he’s had a really hard time keeping up w/things like who was born when).

most of the new friend heads have mouths, the mouths whine that they are thirsty from the toes on up. you can’t see any toes. or even arms. the new friends w/mouths claim their toes are welded to the bottoms of the previously empty containers.

you spray these new friends w/what’s left of the glue made out of hooves + horns, but you don’t really have enough to do any damage. now the new friends are angry b/c they get that you’re trying to send them into an untimely but quick but painful grave. the new friends start listing all the problems w/yr body + yr home décor.

you feel the beginnings of a panic attack coming on. you curl up in the cabinet under the kitchen sink + call up yr stepmom, who is a psychic + a dentist (though these talents never get used simultaneously). yr stepmom says not to worry, that something similar happened to her back when she was in her mid-twenties, before she married yr dad. yr stepmom tells you to get out of the cabinet + pack up like you’re getting ready to run errands. she tells you to remain calm, to make steady eye contact w/ the new friends, but to refrain from speaking. she says try not to even listen to them, if you can help it. once you get out of the building, she says, get on the anonymous FBI tipline + tell them that there are terrorists residing at yr address.

this sounds like a reasonable plan, except for one small detail. you ask yr stepmom but what about the new friend growing in yr bellybutton. yr stepmom, who’s an outie, sighs + tells you that there are some problems best discussed between you + yr real mother. so you call up yr real mother, but she just gives you the same advice about making calm eye contact + tipping off the FBI.

Daniela Olszewska is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Citizen J (Artifice Books, forthcoming) and cloudfang : : cakedirt (Horse Less Press, forthcoming). She sits on Switchback Books' Board of Directors and serves as Associate Poetry Editor of H_NGM_N. Daniela is pursuing her MFA at the University of Alabama, where she teaches creative writing in conjunction with The Alabama Prison Arts & Education Project. Her piece arrives from the Gene Kwak wheel

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