A Poem for Your Sixty-Ninth Birthday

karla keffer

You and Joan Crawford are sipping cocktails in Hell,
and I’m on terra firma, barfing up norepinephrine
and entire nests of copperheads. They’re setting the
clocks back tonight; tomorrow I’ll massage the
green crud out of my temporal lobes and wonder
if I should get my stomach stapled. Are those
vegetables in plastic bags on my floor the ghosts
of the ones we bought that time in Pathmark, when
it was my fault people kept ramming their carts
into ours? I’m sitting here now, full of Miller Lite
and gas bubbles, those tight lips of yours like twin
pink strobe lights in my mind. I’m letting my cat
chew on my hand. I’d let her eat me alive
if she had to. That’s what parents do, let
their children crawl up their spines, into
their souls. You crawled into my bed
and flung your dirty feet on the pillow,
barfed up your own nest of copperheads
on my rug. We never could get that stain
out, no matter how many times we scrubbed
it. I seem to recall we took that rug
to the incinerator along with chairs, a couch,
those jeans I refused to wear. We backed up the car,
dumped it all into the pit, and drove away,
craning our necks to watch it all burn.


Karla Keffer is in her third year of a Ph.D. program in creative writing/fiction at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her poems and fiction have been published in Smartish Pace, Moon City Review, and Rappahanock Review. She is also the creator of the perzine The Real Ramona and the forthcoming semiautobiographical comic Charm City. Karla lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.