Word Up

U-News Staff

Elaina Newton

Poem 1: Maker’s Mark

I discharge one ounce

and the caramel liquid jeers,

now a stiff cohort slighted

by the glass chamber’s clarity.

Its presence recalls historic romps,

jostling on galloping steeds,

hasty uncorkings pressed to pallid lips,

gulped feverishly

then splashed

like surfeit holy water

on festering flesh,

a makeshift antiseptic.

I absorb dissolved

memories, tip back the vessel,

then shoot.

The hot infusion funnels

into my mouth,

but I constrict my throat until the last drop,

inhaling seared wood, slivers

of oak casks,

before swallowing the fiery dose.

The liquid trickles downward

coating my innards,

while the absorbed chemicals swell

upward, treading

below skin’s surface,

emblazoning my cheeks.

Poem 2: Migration

Once the cosmonauts blast off

and the diehards crawl

into fortified bunkers, there

follows a live lottery, but no one

flees to mountain dugouts or border lands this time.

Instead, civilians perch curbside, curl

and crouch on couches. Strung out and jittery,

they tap feet, twitch legs, strum digits

amidst puffing smoke that drifts

past flickering blue shadows

formed by stiff announcers who statically

spew statistics laced with strangers’ names.

Others hunch over chipped

concrete counters, grooved tables,

each fiddling with dials to catch the clearest channel.

The millions leftover linger, stomachs wrenched, handsprung, brows furrowed, sharing a collective uncertainty.

Miles from nowhere in a dim barn,

a little hand tugs her father’s faded overalls

and asks him the solitary question plaguing the masses:

Who gets to go to the moon?

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