Lannie Stabile

I wish you would come ’round for dinner
When you’re not here
The plates just sit there, flat and unresponsive
Staring at me like pale, disembodied heads
With tight secrets crushed between their ceramic lips
The chairs, they don’t wobble or tip or upend themselves
They pretend four legs don’t dance better than two
We, of course, know better
And I can still hear our music, if I strain hard enough
Conversation, oh, how it drips slow and painful
A flawed faucet leading gradually to madness
I sip, and I sip, and I sip, and I sip, and I sip, and I….

I carved the roast last night
As steel slid through the tender breast of the beast
I imagined your hands as my hands
And its flesh as their flesh
You always knew what to do with sharp objects

Though I’ve been screaming since I got here
Every highball glass remains transparent and unshattered
I suppose it’s the frequency of my anguish
I’m in a state of suppression
Each scream is sealed within the politeness of sugar bowls
Served in neat, winsome cubes, one or two at a time
Poison dissolving into complicit puddles

Do you know the torture of sitting still and silent
While tongues are careless and so efficient?
Tasting the soft joy in the room
Licking the charm from the walls
Lapping up any loveliness we have managed to hoard
I want to rip the ribbons from their throats
And hang them with the pretty bows
But I can’t, not when you’re not here

When you’re not here
I fold these dainty and untainted hands in my lap
Regardless of how blood-thirsty they may be
I cross my ankles, like kindling
I sit tall, I sit straight, I sit wrenched and repressed
Of course, I choke on the courses
Compromise doesn’t slide easily down this gullible gullet
But they run their fingers along my dissent
Coaxing the chicken bone into place
And they call it love
I don’t know how much longer I can hold my breath

I wish you would come ’round for dinner

I’ll set a place for you

Lannie Stabile, a Detroiter, often says while some write like a turtleneck sweater, she writes like a Hawaiian shirt. A finalist for the 2019/2020 Glass Chapbook Series and semi-finalist for the Button Poetry 2018 Chapbook Contest, she is penning a second chapbook, as well as novel. Works can be found, or are forthcoming, in Kissing Dynamite, Monstering, Likely Red Press, and more. Lannie currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Barren Magazine and is a member of the MMPR Collective. Follow her on Twitter @LanniePenland. Browse her website at

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