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Susan Michele Coronel

What Was Lost at the Kitchen Table

Our first kitchen table was surrounded

by wobbly chairs that swiveled so much

the wheels fell off. Again & again,

absence opened its jaws around

the Formica oval with missing front teeth,

only incisors & molars left to mash,

tear, incite. I’m not surprised by my turn

of luck, licked twice, like batter

in the bowl that turned salty, not sweet.

When I examine a leaf, it’s static

but its veins pulse in my hand. I inhabited

a world of plates & knives

though I wanted service for four

with an exquisite white gown, my mother’s

Passionata Pink lipstick on the back

of a folded paper napkin. I felt the alphabet

soup tremble, quickening soda,

the alchemy of water with added minerals.

Here, the marker I waited for: ancient

flatbread, crisp & dry. A torn subway map

someone tried to tape together.

The soundtrack of memory is the hardest

to unlock. A storm has abandoned its

hunting song. Our faces white as kosher salt.

A Painful Case of the Possible

Priorities shift like wingbeats—finding a mate

on a dating site, calculating the rate of climate catastrophe.

You want a life that gives joy but forget how

to say yes, how to unlearn patterns

you can’t stop repeating. You want to know if it’s possible

to have relationships without contingencies,

to unlearn setting your childhood home on fire.

Some of your platonic friends have asked to kiss you—

or at least thought about it—too many times. This is the ache

of blue-stop, molecular patterns of dried blood on walls,

the aroma of Chinese takeout

when you open the bag. Think of holes in socks,

a sleeve singed by a candle, the top flap of a sheet

folded & unfolded. But wasn’t it the random coupling

of Adam & Eve that started this discombobulation,

God’s holier-than-thou mindset — a nipple, an apple,

fingertips grazing the sweet stink of earth, the way

we conveniently forget death is in the room —

the inevitable breakup? In the meantime, shave a stiletto

& trap it in a cage. Listen to cats in heat

sob in the cul-de-sac—no more contradictory cues

like static in search a radio. Soil streams through my body,

ripples of water against a veined belly. The heart holds

what it can’t understand—a fishbone caught in the throat

when you try to speak. Just because you wear shoes

filled with pebbles that can sink to the bottom

of a muddy river, doesn’t mean that you want to drown.


Susan Michele Coronel lives in New York City. Her poems have appeared in publications including Spillway 29, TAB Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Gyroscope Review, Prometheus Dreaming, Redivider, and One Art. In 2021 one of her poems was runner-up for the Beacon Street Poetry Prize, and another was a finalist in the Millennium Writing Awards. She has received two Pushcart nominations. Her first full-length poetry manuscript was a finalist for Harbor Edtitions' 2021 Laureate Prize.


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