Erica McKeen is an emerging writer of poetry and speculative fiction from London, Ontario. Her work has appeared in The Quilliad, Occasus, the Minola Review print anthology, The Word Hoard, and elsewhere. She received the Occasus third- and first-place prizes, as well as the Lillian Kroll prize in creative writing from Western University for her short story, “Our Eyes, Our Tongue.” She is a volunteer reader for the literary journals Persephone’s Daughters and Augur Magazine, and she was an invited speaker at London’s Wordsfest and Couplets: A Collaborative Poetry Series. Enthralled with travel, nightmares, and cheesecake, Erica writes with the belief that growth comes from discomfort and understanding from disturbance. 

    Wings

    little boys

    like to scooter to the park

    to inspect insects. they like to snatch

    at yellow butterflies, tripping careless 

    through a breeze, and if they catch them if they live 

    bewildered in a palm, powder gone from paper wings, these boys

    bring them to the pond, plop in water, help them drown, enjoy those colourful

    wings weighed down.

     

    The Attic has No To-Do List

     

    1.

    I have things and things to remember

    dishes to wash

    toilets to clean

    bookshelves to dust

    and organize, alphabetical

    I have dinners and lunches and breakfasts to make

    monsters to chase?

    beans will do

    for today

    the bus is always late

    ketchup for taste

    my bike is broken

    the back tire wobbles and won’t inflate

    I’m forgetting 

    (that email, locked, caught in cyberspace)

    Mother gives rhubarb for dessert

    no ice cream

    and the books, disorganized and the bathrooms aren’t clean

    I haven’t touched the shower,

    stretching weeks.

     

    2.

              In the attic

    plain rice sits like maggots on my tongue

              In the attic

    stained ferrets crouch in corners, watching

              In the attic

    the meds are working but mix memories with my dreams

              In the attic

    doctors are people and they cough and snore and puke

              In the attic

    I find money and eat it, it’s good on toast

              In the attic

    I cut my arm and the blood is sour

              In the attic

    a frog lies inside-out on the windowsill

              In the attic

    my face screams out of a computer screen

              In the attic

    there’s no ice cream, I’ll starve

     

    3.

    I’ll starve for words

    Give me ketchup for taste

    I’ll starve for words

    I’ll starve

    I’ll cut for words

    Where’s my ice cream, Mamma, I want dessert

    Cut for words

    I’ll starve

    Pull out my eyelashes

    Forget what sleep means

    Mamma, where’s my

    I’ll forget for words

    Lose my mind for words

    Lose my mind

    Lose my

    Forget

    That I’ve forgotten

    Mamma, I’ve forgotten something

    I’m hungry, where’s my

     

    —First do the dishes

    Yes, Mamma dear

    —And straighten your hair

    Mmhmm

    —And come over here

    But Mamma

    —Sit down now

    —We have things to take care of

    Mamma, I’ve forgotten

    —Shut up.

    Baby I mean 

    Hush baby don’t say a word. 

    Shut up now, you’ll get your dessert. 

     

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