meghan malachi

How It Works

Everyone in Iowa City wants to be a poet.
Yes, everyone.
Yes, even you,
even me,
even the stray dogs
and the fallen, crushed ginkgo berries.
Yes, even the pigs
that outnumber the people
and the corn stalks that
outnumber the pigs.
Even the locals who say
what’s the big deal?
and the transplants who answer
nothing, nothing at all.
Even the sidewalks which erupt into words,
and even the poets themselves.
Even the mathematicians who rip poems
out of anthologies so they can hang them on bathroom walls.
Even the taco pizza, a symbol for whatever you’d like it to be,
and the cornhole boards, stray and frequent, begging to be fed.
Even the folk-drawn, timeworn bars,
the spontaneous coup
by trombones and drums on game day:
footsongs pummeling through tables,
full of delight and off-the-cuff.
Even the hipster shops that once were hipster shops which once
were hipster shops,
and even the neon benches, rich with regal parrots and pastel rainbows,
and my perpetual uber driver, who is sure that I must be Egyptian.
So sure.
Even the murals we hide like affairs,
and the parking meters that turn dim on the Sabbath.
Even the enameled piano whose eyes fix you like a sick clock,
and my students at the senior center, who know that poems ought to

mean different things to different people.
Even the comics, who say that Chicago is just like this but bigger.
And even the vending machines that spit out infinite poems
instead of candy bars and refuse to take your money
no matter how many times you return.
And the dream van, plump with books and films so old
you can’t remember what they taught you, only how they made you see yourself.
And even the storms we watch like madness herself,
disrupted by lawn chairs, stifled by
the absence of fear.
And even the protests that turned into parades
and even the parades that turned into vigils
and even the vigils that turned into stillness
and even the river
and even the river.

Meghan B. Malachi is a consulting analyst and poet from the Bronx, NY. Her work is published in Milly Magazine, NECTAR Poetry, Pages Penned in Pandemic, giallo lit, Ample Remains, and Writers With Attitude. Her first chapbook, The Autodidact, was published in December 2020. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.