The New Colossus
after Emma Lazarus
If you cut something open, you see
what it lives on. Subsisting perhaps on krill
and stray microplastics.
If you learn what it lives on, then you know
how to catch it. Chop that up
for chum. Or you hang dead animals,
while the river waits below, thirsty
til flies spawn and finally,
falling maggots bring the fish.
Imagine the cornucopia, splashing
maggots as a sign of good fortune
and the feast to come!
Now cut open a person, and you see dreams—
I’m sure— a belly full of dreams.
So if you wanted people you could
chop up the dreams, chop them for chum.
Or you could dangle something, Lady Liberty
perhaps. Prematurely break the shackles
of her feet, and let that New Colossus fade to blue
beyond the horizon. I am sure that dreams
would pop out, writhing little dreams,
and people would flock by the boatload
racing desperately to the sound of that splashing
promise of dreams, but only to—
But then again who would do such a thing,
and what would happen if we cut them open?
Would we see a soul, a belly full of souls?
Trying to Hide the Depression from My Mother
During the pandemic, I moved in and tried
to hide the neglected zoo of a thing
in her one-bedroom apartment.
Blackfish was shoved behind the curtain
of a tub. I couldn’t blame her for missing it.
I couldn’t turn my body inside out.
After long days, she would walk by
the flamingo pond in the sink and occasionally ask
about the colors. Shrimp now in a blue-white sludge
made the flamingos gray when the dishes hadn’t budged.
But nobody is ready to call it zoochosis,
and nobody will tap on the glass.
When the gorilla looked like it was sleeping,
she let it sleep. But it was hard to mask
her disappointment when the hippo’s eyes barely
emerged, and she heard no singing from exotic birds.
She asked herself about diurnal or nocturnal.
She asked herself about natural environments.
But is it a mother’s job to throw fish
in the air in the hopes for claps?
A.C. Dobell is a Filipina-American author and visual artist. She is a student and mentee of the Madwomen in the Attic writing program at Carlow University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Hawaii Pacific Review, Voices from the Attic, Eunoia, Rising Phoenix, and Mercado Vicente. She is a director of Mused, a collaborative exhibition for artists of varying mediums.