“When the shit’s about to get real” by Juliana Gray

Read by the author

but it hasn’t yet, I catch myself
taking tiny risks: standing
on a wobbly chair to change a bulb,
passing trucks on a blind hill,
tempting the disposal’s hungry blades 
as I reach to retrieve an olive pit.
Bring it, I say to the mirror, or a god
I don’t believe in, let’s get it
over with, the positive test,
the cop who doesn’t like my tone.
Each morning, when I unseal
my eyes, I check for bad news,
the text or shaky voicemail
recorded in the waiting room
of a hospital in another time zone.
When it comes, I’ll catch my breath
and hold it as I’m holding it now,
like a moth imprisoned in the space
I’ve carved away beneath my ribs.

Juliana Gray’s third poetry collection is Honeymoon Palsy (Measure Press 2017). Recent poems have appeared in Poetry NorthwestThe Chattahoochee ReviewRogue Agent, and elsewhereAn Alabama native, she lives in western New York and teaches at Alfred University.

Image: “Lord of the Flies – October 2020” by D Steenburg

Special Feature: F2020

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