At some point the pain
finds its expression in a howl,
an unclutching of guttural vowels,
my mouth opens and
a throatful of bruised Os
heavily ascends. Alone in my car
or at my desk, my lips
decant skyward this heaving prayer,
its destination undetermined,
its recipient unknown, its plea
to reconfigure the elements
on an atomic level
because I, too, have been
rearranged, parts of me taken
over, parts taken out, my self
unrecognizable to itself,
a dove in front of a mirror,
a dove as it flies away.




It’s the way you sit across from me
at the kitchen table,
your hands enclosing a teacup,
filled — Your museum behavior —

The way orange slices
splay radially
on my blue plate —

The way the word blue
fails to signify
every shade of blue —

………..the sound of it is inadequate, too —

I feel its dull force
slowly release
into another day —

………..a plain blue,

………..………..a pained blue —

but for so long — how

long? — I refused to

admit it —

ELIZABETH ONUSKO is the author of Portrait of the Future with Trapdoor (Red Paint Hill, 2016). Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Bennington Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, and BOAAT, among others. She edits Foundry, and her website is