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natalie lyalin




The first fear is injury

But the post-injury relief is grand

I’m writing this with my eyes closed
I choked out a speech and the applause still happened

It’s like I should be tap dancing but I’m cleaning the carpet
It’s like I should be cleansing but I’m knee-deep in files

Oren and I are connected
It’s stressful –
we wake at the same time
and when he pursues an ant I’m in hot pursuit as well
I pretend to sleep and he pretends to sleep
We are separated by a hallway

So much of everything is an amalgamation
I read about people who do great things
They make animal costumes, Adirondack chairs,
laser cut letters

I make things ahead of time for Thanksgiving
My instructions are for everyone are to stay alive
until I have the next baby
Then you can take off for heaven
There is no hell
But no one is allowed to relax all the way
At my house everyone is connected by a string
Our spines are straight
made more so by mourning

This Thanksgiving is going to be different
How I wish to be less prophetic
A minor saint with little vision
A much smaller lover of everything holy



My Instructions


Do not be yourself in my house
Be someone else
            The archangel Gabriel descending into a mine shaft
            Beelzebub rattling the floorboards
            A terrible man hiding out in the attic
This is the worst time for renovation
There are no sales
There is a bit of water wasted on the doomed plants
Why am I not calling Brian?
Why am I flailing?
Why is it terrible to see your child sitting alone on a curb,
drinking a juice box?
Mom comments on the skylights
Are they open?
What about the rain?
She’s forgotten what’s in a taco
What is a taco?
Is it spicy?
Is the neighbor referencing Tom Hanks?
No, that wasn’t him
That was someone else
She’s alone
But she has a great necklace
The families descend
I am a zombie
I send good wishes to Tomaz
To everyone else,
I tighten your tourniquets!
Where is a zombie to go at night?
How is a zombie to properly love her mother?
Her mother is a small deer with a good neck
How is it not to drink the blood of mother?



Mom Fight


 I pushed mom and she exploded
into one thousand butterflies

Don’t ever do that again, she said

Don’t ever explode me

We spend an hour collecting her

Again I pushed her, but not so hard this time

This time she became a balloon
and floated off

But reappeared, re-energized and frothy
in a wave I was surfing one summer
late in the day

She came to get me and I floundered
Like an idiot drinking loads of sea water
Its green crystalline a hug of sorts

This is like being in a rock in a hard place, I said
I fought and fought
And made it out of her embrace
But then she was Poseidon with a trident

And I was an urchin
And she was a stone
And I was a grain of rice
And she was pulp
And I was a straw
And she said she knew G-d
But I had only just met him






Natalie Lyalin is the author of two books of poetry, Blood Makes Me Faint, But I Go For It (Ugly Duckling Presse 2014), and Pink & Hot Pink Habitat (Coconut Books 2009), as well as a chapbook, Try A Little Time Travel (Ugly Duckling Presse 2010). She is the co-editor of Natural History Press. She lives in Philadelphia.