Three New Poems by Bernadette McComish


Prometheus didn’t see

her coming

and when she was

gone, every other night he welcomed

whisky vultures to help his liver

forget immortality.

Easy to say she knew what she was doing, blame her

for opening. Even

with all the gifts

of the gods she could not know. She was not crafted

from clay, not mud like Eve, she was stolen fire,

retribution dipped in Cupid’s

poison, the perfect punishment.

Even after the buzzard was slain, he returned

to the same rock and broken

chains, not looking for hope

but for her and the home she kept

in the box.

Never Cast a Love Spell on a Waning Moon

Never say, you want

him back. To change Love’s mind

you must sacrifice a chicken, the heart

of a black cat killed at the new moon. He was unkind—

murdered a glowworm, said goodbye

by a bridge, and now to get what you lack,

unbalance the universe, what will you try?

Will you eat periwinkle and worms, burdock

or columbine? Hang a black

toad by the heels, collect venom

in an oyster, mix ale, marigold, and rosemary balm

to rub on your breasts? Scream his name

while you hold his soiled pants

in one hand and swell

in the other? Never say, you want

him back. Any good spell book will tell

you, magic can get him through the door

but only after you don’t want him anymore.

Because You’re Not Mine

Another man sleeps

in my bed— a loaded gun

to protect me. Blow for blow

I’ll get you

back, get back at you,

bring you down.

To right balance

the recipe for retribution

must be exact.

Come to the kitchen,

I’ll give you a dose—

scratch off your scabs

boil them in a sauce pan;

it’s going to hurt,

poison doesn’t

have to kill. Satisfaction

comes only after blood

cools on the windowsill.

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Bernadette McComish earned an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence, and an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from Hunter. She writes poems that explore parallel realms where fortunetellers give base advice from behind cash registers, and addicts ride subways underwater reciting Shakespeare. Her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Sunday Salon, Hakol, Hospital Drive, Slipstream, Storyscape, and she was a finalist for the New Millennium Writers 41st poetry prize. Her collection The Book of Johns, is forthcoming. She teaches High School in Los Angeles, and performs with the Poetry Brothel curing one John at a time with words and glitter.

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