My Spite Could Fill a Museum

Three poems by Maya Jewell Zeller

My Spite Could Fill a Museum

Tell It to the Birds

I am sick
of not winning the National Poetry Series.
I am sick of waiting
for the mammogram, the ultrasound,
the appointment to discuss the results.
Tomorrow is the first day of school 
in the year of our Lord 10x the number 
of Covid cases as last fall
and no online options. 
In the part of my mind I like to call
The Spite Museum,
I put each of my manuscripts in a different fairly ugly
dress and make a meme: 40 times a bridesmaid,
never a bride. But I always hated that saying.
Mostly because Never a Bride sounded thrilling,
I was killing it there in the Spite Museum
as I made one manuscript unwilling
to wear a dress, and one breast
missing. It went hiking.
When I had a child I named her life
and when I had another he almost died
but then lived so I named him for the echo
that falls down where once a river carved
stone so the walls carry sound. A good place
for a wail. 
I am sick
possibly from the lump
but it may also be that this is the time my husband
of 22 years decided to tell me a string of lies.
I have been kind—his word—
and paying very close attention
like a wife or something
for a year and a half. 
I understand irony. I hate ironing. 
Once I, too, had other feelings. 
I have tried to tone it down.
To come clean.  
Yesterday I walked for two hours without stopping
and then I sat down in the water and cried. 
A heron could care less. 
An osprey stabbed a fish.

Ekphrasonnet Adding Gray Hair to the Cauldron

My whole childhood I was a skeleton wax castle. My plan: 
to marry Jake      the Alligator Man.

I floated my ghost self      down the boardwalks, growling at every tourist
in our angry coast town,

my father his pizza delivery box beer belly Camels cue stick —
my mother her darned socks Oh dear a rosary clicking 

her midwestern teeth &   when I was a calf 
I lived   in this thistle-filled pasture so no wonder my adult self is split in half.

When I was a girl      I lived in this stream
When I was a fish      I glid   my metal-sided dream
& borrowed my name from the middle of another country, hail or

cloud, they taught us not to mix metaphors, use sailor
mouth, or to miss meat, 

& they will differ——if they do——      as enough to drink from enough to eat

Ekphrasonnet With Contrapuntal Stumble

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Thank You!