Poetry

Three Poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Fire and Ice

Falling Asleep in the Emerald City

is harder than you think. There’s a hum
on the laptops in coffee shops, too much caffeine
and Prozac in the city water. The orcas keep dying off,
the sea lions wash up shot on the beaches. There must be
some happy ending out there for us. Don’t look
behind you at the fires blazing in the darkness,
the fault lines under our forests. Don’t think too hard.
Breathe in, says the phone app. Breathe out.
Someone will come along to save us,
the wizard at the end of the road.
Leave the rainbow ribbons in your hair.
Keep a hot air balloon on notice
in case you are in need of quick escape,
or at least a pair of lipstick red slippers.
I think I’ll miss you most of all.
Blinkered silence. The moon a sliver
in the corner of the sky. Sleep easy.
The poppies bloom around us,
and it’s never been so tempting to leave.

 

My Own Song of Fire and Ice

Because I am epic. Because I’m also
the daughter of a mad king, the last of my line,
cursed to be the mother of no one,
gifted with my clutch of eggs.
I have known what it is to walk around
with a death sentence, but I survive.
The only way to win the game is to survive.
None of my love stories have happy endings.
You will remember that I am often burned
but in the end, I am fire-proofed.
I’m another emblem of Joan of Arc,
another warrior riding into the wind.
Take away the breath of men in a glance.
Is she a victim or a villainess?
You remember only a storm of swords and flame,
a flash of the white of winter,
the blue of a dragon’s eye.

 

You Might Be the Killer

Title is taken from the 2018 SyFy original movie, You Might Be the Killer

After all, the killer isn’t just “the killer”
in their own mind. Their actions are always
justified, based on some kind of fear, or
self-centered logic. Also, your memory
has been sort of patchy lately – can you be sure
you didn’t sleepwalk somewhere with a knife
in your hand? And weren’t you the only one at dinner
who didn’t get poisoned? What if you blacked out
while baking chicken? How can you be sure, after all,
that you were only shooting in self-defense?
You weren’t looking too closely who you
were aiming at when you opened that door
in the dark. How can you ever be sure of the way
the narrative angle tilts away from you?
Your nightmares aren’t convincing anyone.
Your amnesia too timely. Now come on, admit it –
you were the one found on the scene, nightgown
covered in blood. If you wake up surrounded
by dead bodies, you could be the final girl,
but chances are good you might be the murderer.

 

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Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize. Her work appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review and Prairie Schooner. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.


Photo: “Fire and Ice” by Fabrizio Russo Photography via Flickr