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  You could have a big dipper   

How It Works by Meghan Malachi

Everyone in Iowa City wants to be a poet.

Yes, everyone. Yes, even you, even me, even the stray dogs and the fallen, crushed ginkgo berries. Yes, even the pigs that outnumber the people and the corn stalks that outnumber the pigs. Even the locals who say what’s the big deal? and the transplants who answer nothing, nothing at all. Even the sidewalks which erupt into words, and even the poets themselves. Even the mathematicians who rip poems out of anthologies so they can hang them on bathroom walls. Even the taco pizza, a symbol for whatever you’d like it to be, and the cornhole boards, stray and frequent, begging to be fed. Even the folk-drawn timeworn bars, the spontaneous coup by trombones and drums on game day: footsongs pummeling through tables, full of delight and off-the-cuff. Even the hipster shops that once were hipster shops which once were hipster shops, and even the neon benches, rich with regal parrots and pastel rainbows,

and my perpetual uber driver, who is sure that I must be Egyptian.

Even the murals we hide like affairs, and the parking meters that turn dim on the Sabbath. Even the enameled piano whose eyes fix you like a sick clock,

and my students at the senior center, who know that poems ought to

mean different things to different people. Even the comics, who say that Chicago is just like this but bigger.

And even the vending machines that spit out infinite poems instead of candy bars and refuse to take your money no matter how many times you return. And the dream van, plump with books and films so old you can’t remember what they taught you, only how they made you see yourself.

And even the storms we watch like madness herself, disrupted by lawn chairs, stifled by the absence of fear. And even the protests that turned into parades

and even the parades that turned into vigils

and even the vigils that turned into stillness

and even the river and even the river


Meghan B. Malachi is a consulting analyst and poet from the Bronx, NY. Her work is published or forthcoming in Milly Magazine, NECTAR Poetry, Pages Penned in Pandemic, giallo lit, and Writers With Attitude. Her first chapbook, The Autodidact, was published in December 2020. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. Twitter: @meghbert

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