As a child I created outside
which belonged to everybody
All paintbrushes, pencils, paper
notebooks in the house
belonged to my father
who said, “This is my house”
In winter I wrote my poems
with my own blood
across the snow
The poetry leader tells us
to write about childhood experiences
He shares his poem about
his love for baseball
I write energetically about child rape
the ways I tried to love myself as a girl
When it’s my turn to share
he pops my pink balloon
says this experience must be locked in a room
with a professional therapist
I look at his blue balloon
the string held tightly in his hand
On it he has written
in thick black marker
“Pink balloons are dangerous”
Not the smooth fading of a glorious sunset
the fresh colours rush off the page
as if from a bucket of water
You are shocked
Your elaborate, time-consuming
There are no pieces to pick up
and put back together
(or cut yourself with dramatically)
You find yourself in a muddy puddle
no evidence of masterwork
or precious object stolen
Where are you?
There are no special markings, no road signs
The sky is a burnt brown
with nothing decipherable
no telling animal silhouettes
Where are you?
You hear little sparrows in bushes
With foolish song?
The sky turns from burnt brown to pea soup green
your lunch all week
with a lean piece of toast
all you can stomach
the adjunct professor doomed
to a premature death, disposal
never reaching tenure
or even seniority
employs the strategies
of the octopus
releases black ink
poems of protest
against her attackers
blends in with her environment
unites with the sanitation workers
complains about low wages
The adjunct professor receives a mass email
with an attached spreadsheet
of the teaching schedule for the next year.
After seven years of teaching,
she has been dropped.
She finds herself in a university dumpster
with skeletons of older adjuncts
who collapsed on their last day
and freshly discarded guest speakers
from marginalized populations,
lured with hundred dollar honorariums
to talk for an hour about their sufferings,
violence against their kind,
to classes in social sciences.
They fight over pristine leftovers
from a conference buffet,
stuff their mouths with asparagus ham rolls
and roast beef and cheddar pinwheels
to eat later for dinner and breakfast.
They come out wearing
barely worn designer clothing
with bags of flowers, fruit and vegetables,
half-full wine bottles and almost full circles of brie.
Some tenured professors express pity
toward the adjunct professor,
ask her how she will survive.
She laughs loudly at the ignorance
of uninterrupted wealth,
recalling all the poverty
she has survived since childhood.
She doesn’t smell of anything rotten,
a floral, fruity potpourri.
I have 2 poetry books published: Noble Orphan by Demeter Press (2014) and Welcoming by Inanna Press (2009). My poetry has appeared in diverse North American publications, such as Rampike, Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write Their Bodies (Kent State University Press, Ohio), Women and Environments, Eco Poetry 2009, Philosophy Now, The Brock Review, The Goose, Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Literature II (Michigan), Wordgathering: A Journal on Disability and Literature, Return to the Mago, and Crone Magazine. www.andreanicki.com.