C. Smith


I Have to Sleep at Night with a Telephone in My Hand

*Contains found poetry that chronicles violent partner death
Somewhere outside of Oklahoma
We stopped for Pepsi in Styrofoam cups
And burgers in greasy parchment paper.
My brother told me that if I snorted carbonated
Drink through double straws my wish might
Come true. I hoped for another trailer house
With fake wood paneling down the hallway. Inhaled
On plastic. And in England a woman is strangled with twine
By the man who repeatedly bought her body to use for sex. Bound
Barbie Doll with duct tape. Slashed her wrists.
Neighbours heard her screaming. Hemingway
Smacked his lovers to tighten up
His lines. Praise the simplicity
Of Hemingway’s words. A dog
Barked. Rain fell on a telephone pole. She simply
Took the beating and did not seek help
, the judge said. No
Woman expects the child they give birth to will one day beat
The life from them. Wilde commented on bloated
Red lines of his wife’s body after their baby came.
Disgusted the portrait of Dorian Grey. Frown lines
Appearing in cracked oil paint. Claire beaten
To death by her ex-partner. He had tinnitus. He attacked
Claire’s son with a nail gun. A green light glowing
On a dock across a frothing lake. Fitzgerald might
Have taken his words from Zelda. I sniffed at Pepsi
Straws. Their double barrel liquid burning the inside
Of my sinuses. Watched my older brother double
Over in laughter. He was the first man to blacken my eye.
To call me a cunt. My mother screamed, Call 911
He’s taking an axe to the front door.
Sometimes I think of uncredited
Drugged out Marianne Faithful. Warbling gravel
On a 1980s record. I wonder who taught Mick
Jagger to play. Cooze. I remember the first time
I heard that word. In the early 90s, as a young
Girl. Tongue slid out between mustachioed lips
And uttered, What a fucking bitch. A judge
Told him, You are not ill. You are wicked. For
Sophie whose boyfriend beat her for 4
Hours. Breaking 11 of her ribs, her eye socket
And her nose. I remember my ex-husband
Told me once I was a sheep. A white lamb
Bathing in moonlight. For Mandy whose husband
Stabbed her as she unloaded
The dishwasher.

C. SMITH has been published in The Paper Shell, Sky Island Journal, The Gordian Review, and the chapbook Hide & Seek. C. Smith is a MFA candidate at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Creative Writing. She studies under Matt Rader.