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The Kitchen Counter on a Tuesday Night

Devon Neal

A dark glass of soda, dusted with carbonation,
ice cubes melted to ghosts.

The tangle of car keys, a catbitten phone charger,
glasses folded like a sleeping insect.

Several envelopes like ruffled feathers,
a few scribbled on, return to sender.

Two gray laptops, one plugged in,
the pinpoint of orange light on its side.

A wrinkled bag of cat food pebbles,
a school lunch bag holding smeared snack packages.

A green notebook, a tattered file folder,
a calculator with worn keys missing its cover.

A car tax notice, some W-2 forms,
a purple marker and a mechanical pencil

A school worksheet scrawled with n’s written backwards,
a math exam, 18/20.

The heat switches on; just turn off the light—
we’ll clean it up tomorrow.


Devon Neal

I wait until you're asleep,

then I go into your bedroom with a screwdriver.

While you breathe deep, I find the screw teeth

behind your ears, under your shoulder blades,

the heel of each foot, the roof of your mouth.

In the gray of the room I pry the edges apart

and set your loose, rattling panel to the side,

exposing your circuitry.

In the clockwork of your living,

the soft clatter of each ticking part,

I put my fingers into the edges,

looking for a symbol, a logo, a brand name.

I inspect your chess-piece molars, their growth pattern,

the ball of your shoulders, your ankle pins,

the flywheels in your knees, each spinal gear.

I fiddle with the marbles of your eyes,

the flicker of paint inside—

are they clear without lenses?

I check all these nervous devices

Looking for my name. Are these the narrow heart valves

of your great-grandfather, your grandma's weak kidneys,

the oven-black lungs of my father?

In the rubber tread of your brain,

I feel for our family's signature addiction,

the sticking throttle of obsession.

In the morning, back in one piece,

I remind you to eat a few more greens.

Devon Neal (he/him) is a Kentucky-based poet whose work has appeared in many publications, including HAD, Livina Press, The Storms, and The Bombay Lit Mag, and has been nominated for Best of the Net. He currently lives in Bardstown, KY with his wife and three children.
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