A Series of Poems

by Maureen McElroy


I love you bitterly,
tooth and nail.

The taste of you
is aspirin on my tongue.

Narco-leptic lover,
walk away again

and I may have to beg,
regurgitate “I love you.”

Your embrace
is shock treatment.

I forget razor-blade Monday,
waiting for your train,

the pain of empty doorways,
burnt-out candles.

Can we rehabilitate this mess?
Your smile, so sickly sweet,

it knocks me out
like chloroform.

When You Were Gone

a pigeon died on the windowsill.
I plucked its pure white feathers
and pushed it down.
Someone called “Juanita” from the street.
Black beans burned
the smoke alarm.

When you were gone
I bumped into furniture,
vacuumed red ants
crawling from the radiator,
and dreamt of a baby packaged in styrofoam.

In the laundryroom,
a Brazilian man
stared at my legs in liquid tights.

I offered him a straw.

It All Ended in the Kitchen

you pulling skin off a chicken –
I knew you wouldn’t be fertilizing
my eggs.

It’s a shame, baby,
cause you shook my world,
rocked me like a mix master

with your doughboy cuteness
that went all soft
when I poked your middle.

What a crock!
This Arm & Hammer love
doesn’t do a goddamn thing

when the fridge stinks
and I’m banging on the icemaker
you gave me for Christmas,

red beet juice on my blouse,
and I say “Hey, help me,
I’ve hurt myself.”

But you don’t respond.
Just microwave
your potatoes,

wind up a chattering-teeth toy
that hops across the table
and falls to the floor.

We both bend.
You start to hug me,
but my stomach reels

cause it’s over
and I thought you were my savior,
but you can’t even walk on jello.

Maureen McElroy was born and raised in Boston as one of seven children. She attended Boston University and has an MFA from Emerson College. She taught English and Latin for five years before entering a career in Real Estate. She owns Jamaica Hill Realty in Jamaica Plain, MA. Her work has been published in Seventeen Magazine, The Beacon Street Review, and Mothers Always Write.

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