Woman, Indeterminate Age, Has Changed Her Mind


(after a poem by Mathew Olzmann)


You’re never quite dead when they harvest you.

So you will curse the moral tone of the Procurer and her easy-fill form,

the swift-footed database matching your organic data,

the interns itching for cutting-edge experience, the surgeons

scampering in to the world premiere. You’ll be with them all the way:

prep, drape, aspirate, clamp, divide, irrigate, yank, sever.

You thought dying was bad enough


but you’ll remember none of these things. You’ll remember when you were ordering

takeaway milk in its too-large plastic beaker that squishes the milk into dribbles

down your hand, and what turns out to be a too small slice of blackcurrant

and lemon cheesecake, and the cashier says to your clutch of one-dollar

notes, Were you at a strip club last night? and you laughed and you

tried to ask Dancing on the table or stuffing them in her panties?

but you were laughing and the cashier was laughing and the

folks in the queue and those waiting for their orders

and the man chopping Italian parsley and the girl

separating egg yolks. And you remember that

you used to say Some of us are still here

only because suicide is messy. But now,

dying from the inside out—no help

needed—you don’t want to go.

You aren’t ready to be



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An Albatross


There’s an albatross on Midway Atoll.
She’s hatching her thirty-seventh
albatross babby. She’s not the Black-
footed or browed. Nor the Wandering,
despite flying eternally except to mate
and brood. And that Yellow-nosed,
recently escaped from the Doldrums,
is now sheltering in a Lincolnshire marsh.
And she’s not the gentle Shy or
the grimy Sooty. No, this is a Laysan,
known for its whinnying. At seventy,
she may be the planet’s oldest bird,
returning to the same, now mouse-
infested place, to birth her babbies.
And with the same mate—if she
hasn’t in the meantime outlived him.
These birds used to die of old age.
Now they ingest plastic or are attacked
by the mice. Fred West, serial killer
and sentimental, liked a bit of dialect
along with the killing and the rape.
Years on, he referred to his children,
even those he’d butchered, as babbies.

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