Four poems by Danica Obradovic

Twenty New Fears to Counter Your Old Ones

The fear of running into an old classmate who is president of a vaudeville troupe
that only does impressions of you swallowing your food down the wrong pipe

The fear of being run over by a train in a prison cell

The fear of clacking a typewriter key whose sound compels you to send
your unfinished novels to all living descendants of Ernest Hemingway

The fear of choking on alien meat at a black tie reception on the moon,
just as Buzz Aldrin gets back from his bathroom break

The fear of falling asleep in a pillowcase and waking up as a luna moth inside
the tangled coil of a notebook

The fear of not being able to stop reproducing children who are afraid
of toasters, which worsens at the sight of a cannonball on the History Channel

The fear of being a tick inside a gregarious woman’s green, feather boa
as she repeatedly laughs and swats her acquaintances with the back of her hand

The fear of marking your territory with nondescript underwear

The fear of climbing a ladder that leads to a hologram of you climbing a ladder
toward a universe where no one will buy lemonade from impoverished,
ambitious youth

The fear of talking to your mother the way you talk to your poker buddies
and talking to your poker buddies the way you talk to your personal trainer,
right after you’ve reached your individual fitness goal

The fear of buying a vintage cuckoo clock that spits out the same hand-written instructions for preparing quick meals that can be found in your mother’s recipe book circa 1972

The fear of losing a great idea in a fruit pie and having it rediscovered
as something sweet in the mouth of someone else

The fear of being pursued by a tax collector wearing a monocle and thrusting
a long receipt, demanding you owe a penny for every gesundheit you’ve withheld

Every Thursday Movie Night, the fear that overpopping a bowl of kernels
will produce dead daisies

The fear that at the end of every tunnel, there is a man
dangling from a giant esophagus, pleading with you to give him his life back

Howling inside tunnels because silence reeks and causes nausea

Scaring the tunnel people to death

Anticipating yourself thrown into a dumpster by a gust of wind conjured
by a four-year-old blowing out her younger sister’s birthday candles

Most recently, the fear of being lifted by a rabid aloe vera plant with stalks
like the arms of an octopus, and held up to a mirror

The horror of seeing only yourself in the mirror as you’re hovering
and being gripped

*

Soup Clinic

Mara, I found your baby in my soup, head tucked
behind a mushroom. I bathed her and let her
see the sky. She cried for morsels and swaths,
not knowing how much longer she had to live.
Faces hurled themselves at her
like spasms of light, none of them yours.

Mara, you’re a woman dying of a precise fear,
so specific it was tailored to fit your neck.  The baby
wouldn’t loosen her grip. She’d yank your eyes out
and tousle your hair. She’d soil your dresses and poke
at your paunch. You couldn’t be a hostess, so unkempt
and tired. You couldn’t please people to begin with,
a terror that caught you mid-laugh and became this mantra:
pythons are nesting behind the pans.
  Mara, let go

of the building blocks in your hands, and let go
of the tiny clothes.  I’ll sedate you with some flowers
I’m soaking in the kitchen. I’ll take you through a sleepy tour.
I’ll show you where the baby rests, and where my husband
coddles me.  We’ll make some soup together.  I guarantee

you’ll see each ingredient before I put it in the broth.
The man who harvested the onions will shake your hand.
Mara, the litmus test shows there is nothing in the brew that
could hurt you or a child. The pregnancy test shows you’re clear.

*

Do Something That Could Get You Disowned

Your apologies have no rhyme or meter. They are sticky threads
to a chrysalis amply wrapped in silk. They’re bolts
on the branches of trees on Halcyon Days.
Your acrylics have been sitting in your tidy living room
for three weeks: a few splatters which required permission
from the landlord and your Mother.

The birds are taking spills over your car. People are taking spills
in rainstorms and airplanes, pilots clutching drapes and shitting.
You are not the heat wave that fedexed hyperthermia. You’re not
the canker sore in the pilot’s mouth. The prematurely hatched
chicks are fragile and none of your business.

Don’t call your family this evening. They are waving handkerchiefs
on a boat headed to the Adriatic Coast. You’re rubbing plates
together and rumbling the floor. An idea is gestating inside an egg.
The guest who finds dried sperm on your tablecloth
is in a precarious position, but Mother Nature’s used to it.

*

Microfiche

I peered at his obituary notice through the microfiche,
as if peeking into a little house where he washed and dressed,
the soap tinier than the groove of my pinky. His heart, a red seed
that burst beside the spilled talcum powder.

More poetry at Used Furniture.

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