Charissa Menefee


The Poet Purges

Two full months spent in minutia,
the dregs of a long life.
Stray bookstore receipts, meant
for tax returns, stowed under
ancient phone books in the kitchen
pantry; disintegrating papier-mache
Christmas tree ornaments sculpted
by beaming kindergartners; an
inheritance of mismatched china
teacups and saucers hoarded by
his mother during the Depression;
strange things bought in bulk—
Dove soap, green Bic ballpoint pens,
stale-now cartons of True cigarettes,
and volumes of poetry, signed
affectionately by poets whose names
he doesn’t recognize, poets he can’t
remember meeting. And a drawer
full of keys—keys with no locks,
no homes, no clues, no meaning.
They could open anything
or nothing.

CHARISSA MENEFEE is a poet, playwright, and director. Her chapbook, When I Stopped Counting, is available from Finishing Line Press, and her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Poetry South, Terrene, Adanna, Amygdala, The Paddock Review, The 2016 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine Anthology, and Telepoem Booths. Her most recent play, “Our Antigone”, adapted from Sophocles, premiered in the spring of 2017. She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University. The Poet Purges is from her new book-in-progress, “The Poet Donates His Minutes.”