Three Poems by Jacqueline Markowski

Mania Pulls

six figures living paycheck to
paycheck, a dry tongue away
from homelessness. It takes out
steel window loans sticky with mafia
points. Mania minimizes
its screen, stares for
hours, a steady lamp
of mistruth. Mania has
no reflection. It is a P trap
full of meds. It is a passive
and aggressive bird, married to
a hamster on wheels. Mania is
a baritone yellow, all bile and
bilirubin, except eyes and hands
red from exposure and taking
taking taking. It knots spines and
climbs them, builds on stacked
distance, maps routes for split
second decisions. Mania makes
liars out of family, is prone
to snowballing. It drives fast
a dull knife into mid-life.
Mania craves mother’s
milk. Projecting, embellishing,
playing hero, its resume thick
as the Bible, with just
as many versions. Mania is
a slow snake of maddening
around the aging neck
of marriage: spouse witnesses
the tripling of debt, the shrugging
shoulders of bankruptcy as nest egg
dwindles— crack, yolk, white,
to nothing. Mania’s spouse
lives on the break between the furrows
until they disappear along with the rest.
Like an addict she will wait
to be remembered.
Like an addict she will wait
to forget.

Ironic Deficiency

Iron, by mass the most common
element, is produced by fusion in heavy
stars, scattered by supernovas. Our universe
dishes it willy-nilly. Man mimics,
beckoning future by manipulating and
blending, strengthening by the addition
of impurities. Biology found it similarly
utilitarian: an efficient transport system
for oxygen. Iron lives everywhere,
inside rocky planets, the space surrounding
them, the stars, the oceans, and
their symbiotic trappings. Everywhere
there is iron. Except the grey bones
of the dead and the cells of the chronically
exhausted, those waiting to die
and be scattered
by supernovas.


Bent, he fixed a chrysalis
between my teeth. He fears
witnesses— not of action but
motive. Always he locks
doors, shades the windows
peach. After dark he
jumps rope in pharaoh
tombs, hoarding staples, fearing
the turn of the century. He sells
lies to his daughter; monthly, says
words like love, holding his tooth and
regret in shade. His mother collects
endings. An orphan, she gums
the dead, swallows whole the
worms. She hardly feels them
anymore, aging only in leaps
and ninety day refills. Her chest
is tired, cancerous. He hardly feels
her anymore. He discards
loyalty, sleeps with someone else’s
mother. He is an addict. She is
an orphan.

About the author:

Jacqueline Markowski’s work has most recently appeared in San Pedro River Review, The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, Bird’s Thumb, Rust+Moth, S/tick, Emerge Literary Journal and is forthcoming in Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Knicknackery, Barely South Review and Turtle Island Quarterly. A multiple Pushcart nominee, she won first place at The Sandhills Writer’s Conference and was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. She is currently working on a collection of poetry. You can see more of her work at