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Jill Khoury


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When I was on vacation you sent your band of arsonists with grapples and pulleys to overtake my attic. They dirtied my floor with wrappers, butts, sludge-bottomed cups. Exposed the lath and stuffed my crevices with sugar-faced tabloid pages. Wound all the charges around my load-bearing beams. Then they lit the fuse and jumped. A partial bootprint survived the conflagration. It would later give forensics the first clue to their identity. At the first whiff of trouble they would surrender you.

Undercover with the Morning Cult

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During the night, some intruder ninja'd his way to my window, filled his bottomless black stocking with my sleep. Now, the garbage truck whines, robotic, flips the dumpster. How good to be relieved of all those toxic emotions says the trash compactor with a prolonged visceral crunch. In the square of sky contained by my window, clouds shape themselves into an angry face. The alarm clock tumbles to the floor. My sinister hand retreats beneath the quilt. In the mirror, my eyelids shine like rice paper. My mouth sags its way down my chin. Pills and breakfast; breakfast and pills. The sun salutation makes my joints crackle. The muscles' metallic screech when I force them into proper posture. Ta-da: this is the self I present to everyone when I say I'm fine.


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It sounds like the name of a queen in a Greek tragedy. She wants to be let alone. She sits in resonance, observing coronae. There's a word for the scatter of colored lines you see behind your closed eyes but I don't remember it. Stand straight upright with your feet together for a full minute. Now do it with your eyes closed. If you sway back and forth it means one thing. If you sway side to side it means another. If you don't sway at all, it means a Sign, some Sign is positive, or negative. Later the doctor for whom the Sign is named may write a new paper, reverse his opinion. Then you are no longer sick. Or you are more ill than everyone thought. At Connie's baby shower, the mamas and grammas shrieked like mad hens when a pendant placed plumb over Connie's belly swung in a line or maybe it was a circle. Either you're a line or a circle. Not a slash, spiral, or hemisphere. You must answer all the questions on the survey or else this trial will be invalid. Somewhere in Missouri an assistant will shred your research data. These are forced-choice questions. Attacks of acronyms are normal. Pick the one that best describes you. Heavy and dark. You'd rather have something ending in –osis or –asia than –oma. These sound like the names of servants in the Greek tragedy. After each scene there's always a chorus of mad hens telling you what you should know by now.

Divorce Is Such a Drag

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The faucet leaks,
but you can't stop it.

You enter
the kitchen
for 2am cookies.
You make each
cookie last
thirteen bites.
You're chewing
in syncopation
with the rhythmic
drops hitting
the sink.

You twist with pliers
and sticky fingers
like you know what
you're up to, but it just
scrapes crud
off the calcified

You resolve to
let it go.
After all,
it's just a drip.

The bead
at the end of the spout.

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