Saturday 6 January 2024

Five Poems by Kathylynne Somerville


Mommy Makeover


She smoked tobacco, weed, hash,

methamphetamine and drank.

Ate fast food slow, candy quick.

If she did a colonic biohazardous

waste would flush from her, choke

those not suited up in hazmat suits.


Beer and wine stocked the fridge, liquor

the cabinet, bottle a hooch in her backpack.

Glaze like a doughnuts, oiled her hair.

Her skin pocked with pimples, Twizzler skinny,

black luggage bagged below her eyes.


One afternoon, wasted from swigs she’d disguised

with body spray and cloves, the mother

she’d never met shook her from her stupor and pushed

her through the glass doors of a clinic.


When the doctor deduced she was carrying something

other than general alcohol addiction, the cloth of mother-hood

convinced her to clear her dry

throat and beseech his assistance.


In meetings, she grew and grew, sucking

lollipops down to the wick, listening to stories

about plummeting rock bottoms. Delivering,

her head hung under a bandanna of shame,

a prayer circle worshipped God.


By some fluke, she’d stashed

savings from her job as a cashier,

home when her water dropped on her sandals,

and seeped into the linoleum’s grout.


In hospital, labour strung her hella out.

She did not scream for an epidural,

nor did she for benzodiazepines. She clenched

the responsibility of sobriety

in her squeaky-clean fist.


Holding her baby, supporting her little blonde

thin haired head, bawling, vernix-slick,

she signed a post-natal promise. Promising

to mother her real, mother her good.

Believing for the first time, she could.


The Flirtation of A Fantasy


Cool air embraced my room with a comforting chill.

Rains had fallen for weeks which poured over into other

weeks, greening brown mountains, dirt grounds, tan slopes:

Kelly green chaparral gone crazy, salt bushes running amok,

lupine purpling pointing skyward toward a sheet of grey.

It’d been the most rainfall in Los Angeles County since

anyone could recall. Along with its beauty it behest

overflowing drains, flooded gutters, closed lanes, caused

mudslides and created nostalgia, fecundity

cultivated from the soil of a friendship which withered

when she fell headfirst for me. Feeling contrition

for leading her up a botanical garden’s path imbedded

with the flirtation of a fantasy, I spread mulch

with a trowel in a field of apologies, wishing for the gloom

of June to be gone, the hazards to be cleared,

and for her to be my friend, again.



Chemical Bonding


I liked to lie in the lateral position. Opposite the window

and luminosity of the moon reflecting off the valley of inclines. 


A fleece blanket covered me to my chin, flannel

pajamas with marijuana leaf motifs my body, pink fuzzy socks my feet.

I wasn’t sure whether he’d entered through the side door I left open

in a chamber of my heart, or whether he gained access

by the key I kept on the chain linking the moments

I missed him. Musk and Ethanol lingered, traces of aftershave, a laboratory.

A meaty arm bundled around me


in the manner of a rolled-up mattress.

He hadn’t come to get lucky. He came for propinquity past.

The couple who sky dived

1800 feet above Santa Barbara, rode round Canyons

on a Yamaha with bikers then bailed to cruise our own adventure.

Incompatible chemicals unable to be arranged

into a structure because we formed

a compound which blew up with lies. I didn’t confront


him when I heard he’d been at a restaurant on the west side with her.

I shut my mouth when I saw make-up on his Henley—a shade

too light for me. My efforts

to neutralize the situation only increased acidity of the facts.


The fact I’d fallen for him with tremendous potency.

And certain he’d strip from me if I reacted, I didn’t.

No one’s ever gonna love me as much as you do, he said,

when our relationship reached the point of combustion,

and he sped off, twisting the throttle to his motorbike.


I feared if I faced him he would dissolve as fast

as the sugar did in the chamomile tea

I stirred and stared at, hoping to spot his winsome reflection.


In the morning, the bucket helmet he had me wear when we rode,

hooked over the banister of my bed.

The Babe he’d painted on with permanent marker didn’t have one scratch.  



I Almost Died


Stark walls encased harsh fluorescent lighting boxing

in bleached sterilization. Tubes funnelled charcoal,


monitors read a heart rate; oxygen supplied. Golden effulgence glowed

in the upper right-hand cornice, the corner point where the ceiling been mortared

to the wall. As a fixture attached to plaster by a cord a surgeon’s knife

could never sever, I watched myself in restraints,

nurses adjusted prongs inside my nose,

endotracheal intubation in my throat,


checked sensors on my chest, administering the doctors directions.

Sixty Valiums and two shots of whisky and I was still here.  


A doorway appeared. Then an angel inside a tympanum gilded in filigree.

Her blonde curls cascaded along the boat neck of her lilac

taffeta gown. She could have been Dianne Wiest with her button nose,

arched eyebrows, and her cheeks lifting with her Duchenne smile.


Rather than an Oscar, a sceptre was abreast of her. She greeted me the way a mother

welcomes a daughter home from school:

love and endearment parcelled around an expectancy

you’re never weary waiting for.


With elocution like marmalade layered on a slice of whole wheat toast

you’d keep warm on the toaster and save, she said, Not yet.



Stuff It


Solar panels located in the outermost stations of space

generate our affinity, grounding us in our own orbit

at Inn and Out Burger. In the opening on the Formica,

he sets his hand near my sleeve,

tells me he loves me. I yearn to reply

in kind with ketchup, but I shove a fist-

full of fries in my mouth and reply, Tasty.

We hold our hearts in our hands

like candy apples on sticks, showing off

their gleam with the radius of our smiles.

Astronomers without telescopes, we refrain to study the optics

of this phenomenon and meet in the atrium

at the library. Gawking at each other smitten and stupid,

him shifting his feet, me smiling, my mouth curling

upwards defying the law of gravitation, until, stuff it, I leap

all in, hurl my cautionary tactics and concerns

into the central air-conditioning system and reply, Love you too.

By Kathylynne Somerville 
























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