Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

3 Poems by Maureen Kingston

no burn permit

doesn’t stop you
from pitching
chain letters
& Manilow
mixtapes
into the pit’s
reckoning flames

barbecue uses every part
of unwanted speech
trash talk
street slang
slabs of profanity

the brimstone hums
the blues
slow-cook seduces
marinates
hoodoo spells
in slurred fat & dry rub

sin soon falls
from the bone
lands on your
oh-so-willing plate

you intend
a gradual descent
into gluttony
lick the cherub’s
sauced wings
crunch the hellhound’s
brisket bark

but in no time flat
you careen south
swallow the devil’s
glossal member
how-how-howl hexes
at heaven’s gate
become a soul
lost in baste

The Lie of Permanence

Save it or not? The hellacious tooth question. Is it worth the expense? The root canals alone. An evil garden of stakes and nails. Cheaper to apply oil of cloves or temporary cement. Maybe escape’s the way to go. A few shots of Nighttime Nyquil, pray the pain disappears by dawn. My blindsided eyetooth, my aching mandible–I deserve a prize for this much suffering. Where’s the Tooth Fairy when you need her? Losing baby teeth was nothing compared to this trial by fiery poker. All downhill after I entered the Land of Permanent Teeth. The wisdoms slicing their razor-heels through my virgin gums. The micro-crack that became the San Andreas Fault. The passel of defective crowns. On second thought, scratch T.F. from the wish list. No sugar plums left in her fairy cape. A payday loan might do the trick. The equivalent of coins under a pillow–a fortune with an extraction clause. Only 700% interest to paycheck my way through decay. A sumptuary tax on the sin some banker (correctly) assumes I’ll eventually commit. My implants gleam, whistle past the graveyard. I’m young again, coy. I take center stage at the garden party, play both leads–Adam and Eve. A blissful last bite of the candy apple before Death notices how well my dentil trim matches his marble drapes.

Sometimes Doom’s Built into the Design of a Thing

Over coffee my brother-in-law tells me
today’s the day. Come hell or high water,
he says. This man who never washes
his jeans, who once mistook a bean sprout
garnish on a rib eye for the cook’s hairnet,
this gristly, no-slave-to-fashion wrangler
will have the third toe on his right foot
cut off today, to better fit the diamond
narrow of his cowboy boot.

Hammer toe’s a goddamn nuisance,
he says. Like a dry-rot plank on a porch–
best just to saw it off. He wishes he could
do it himself, he says. Take a pair of bolt cutters,
unhinge the cankered bone. Not sure I could stand
the pain, he says, as his attention drifts out the window
to his toolshed, to every file, caliper, and blade hung there.


Maureen Kingston’s poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in B O D Y, The Frank Martin Review, Gargoyle, IthacaLit, So to Speak, Stone Highway Review, Terrain.org, Uppagus, and Verse Wisconsin.

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