Don’t Use the Appliances
by Miranda Steffens
It’s beautiful green again and the rain
too the woman opening her
umbrella in the doorway you
leaning against the window hair
soaking-wet won’t dry not
today not with the rain. It’s normal
it’s just normal to lie awake all
night waiting for morning for him
to wake and maybe to then
say how you didn’t sleep but realize
from the way you so naturally clutch
each other at the sound of the radio
alarm Paris News he forgets
to turn off that it’s not his problem so
you stay in his bed look at the ceiling
while he showers look at the wall
while he dresses feel absolute
loss as he leaves saying don’t use
the coffee pot as the electric
is. . . . but then finally sleep and dream
of signs all over the kitchen reading
don’t use the appliances but
they’re signed je t’aime.
by Miranda Steffens
I take the rat from the cage so i can hold it and let it
bring me comfort. It tries to hurt me instead. I hold it tight
between my two hands while it lashes its teeth, strains
its muscles and tries to turn its head to bite my hand.
I hold hard. I try to throw it into its cage and slam
the door but it’s free now—it refuses to go back.
The fight doesn’t end until i shake it hard and throw it
into a cardboard box and then shake it again with all
my might until it falls dead at the bottom of the box.
It drops from the box to the floor and just to be sure
it’s dead I take my shod foot and step precisely
on its head until I can feel the skull crack and flatten.
The priest comes to see me. He is the attention
I need; he offers his email addresses and direct
telephone numbers for times of extreme need.
When he turns to leave I kiss him—not on the cheek
but the lips—in appreciation. He kisses me back,
polite, and then says, Ok now, that’s enough of that.
Miranda Steffens received her BA from Knox College in 2007.
She’s on the editing staff of Upstairs at Duroc, of which she was
the 2007/2008 co-editor. She recently moved from Paris to New
York City, where she is starting an Open Mic at Hoopz in Brooklyn.
On “Don’t Use the Appliances” and “The Rat”:
My poetry is often inspired by dreams. When the subject matter
of a poem is taken directly from a dream, I can normally
connect it to whatever is happening in my life—but the dream
tends to give the situation in my life a much more interesting
and, strangely, clear perspective. When the topic of the poem
is not directly derived from a dream, my writing style is still
inspired by the “dream-like” way of connecting seemingly
unrelated subjects without stopping for explanation or breath.
“The Rat” was written directly from a dream which I’m pretty
sure was related to a battle I’d been having in trusting and
depending on someone, despite the fact that each time it had
proven to be self-destructive.
“Don’t Use the Appliances,” on the other hand, is not
completely based on a dream, but ends on one, and I attempt
to imitate the tone of a dream by using enjambement and quick
movement from image to image.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 3, Number 2
Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors