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Three Poems
by Kellie Powell


a waitress
in the Golden West Steakhouse
in Normal, Illinois,
is staring too long
at a plate of prime rib
cooked rare
still pink
almost bloody.
she is dying for a cigarette.

in twenty minutes,
she will meet her boyfriend in the parking lot
and she will start to cry
before he can turn the key in the ignition.
she will see his shocked expression

she will spring from the car
and run down the street
and he will chase her, yelling:
Beckie, I love you!
Beckie, let's get married!

in a month,
she will be married.
she will share a last name
with a man who throws tantrums,
breaks plates,
punches holes in walls,
kicks down doors.
she will hold him when he cries
and says he's sorry, says:
I just love you too much, baby
I'd never hurt you
I won't be like my father
not ever
please, baby.
believe me.
you have to
believe me.

in twenty-eight weeks,
this doomed woman will become a mother.
she will be my mother.

The Hangover

Friday night I got drunk on tequila,
Saturday night I got wasted on you,
High from the way you kiss,
Mellow from the way you speak
Yours is the poison that sends me
Over the edge.
But alcohol wears off
And you work in the morning
And I'm coming down hard
And I feel a little sick
And I crawl into bed,
And I wake up hung over.

In the morning - actually, the afternoon - when I wake up
Sunlight hurts my eyes and I can't move
I lie there, re-living the night before more vividly than I'd like to
And I think about permanent damage -
I think about permanent anything
And I think you and I could make a lot of sense
Instead we take turns keeping each other at arm's length
Instead we take turns pushing each other away

Friday night I got drunk on tequila,
Saturday night I got wasted on you.
Yours is the poison that sends me
Over the edge.


I step into the familiar darkness
I pay too much for a cafe mocha
and a bag of yogurt-covered pretzels
I realize that I have memorized the graffiti
scrawled on "our" table.
There is a drawing of a woman
whose face is perpetually twisted with grief
a cartoon word bubble springs from her mouth
but contains no words.
Every time we meet here,
I'm always a little surprised
when you actually show up.

I find myself licking my lips in anticipation,
I find it's hard to breathe.
You have a way of choking me
by making me hang on your every word
You have a way of hurting me
by breaking the promises you never made.
You convince me to share my pretzels, and my pain.
I give you my suffering, and you call it a poem,
and you think of me as a work in progress.

I'd like to
move beyond the paint-chipped off-white walls
of our dingy, dimly-lit coffeehouse,
our unsubtle innuendos,
my anxiety and idealistic devotion,
my naive idea of love as self-sacrifice,
our melted mess of yogurt-covered pretzels
But here I am, still bound to this familiar structure
still sitting awkwardly at the graffiti-covered table
where I am always waiting for you.

About the author:
Kellie Powell graduated from Illinois State University in 2006. Her poetry has been published in the anthology "Ugly Poets, Beautiful Poems," and the literary magazines "Brome & Beyond," "Ink Blots," "Euphemism" and "Flask & Pen." Her play "Collaboration" won the Hinman Production Company Play Contest in 2004 and was subsequently produced by the company. Her play "Bargaining" was produced as a staged reading at Binghamton University, as a radio drama for WHRW, and as part of the Illinois State University Free Stage Festival. Kellie has worked as a copy editor and editorial columnist for The Daily Vidette. She is currently the Executive Production Director for These Aren't My Shoes Productions.

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