Two Poems by Madeleine Penman


Talking to Another

My heart and lungs,
pumps of word generators
floating up a tube,
but I won´t stop
to take a breath so
the words get jammed
on their way up the tube,
like sausages, that spill out, in
a tangled line on a string
and then split open
down their middle,
threading all thrown open
fleshy middle belly up
words come out wrong:
soul exposed.


Call Center Operator

You pick up the call,
“I´m here to serve you.”
And just five words
unleash a rage.
You know so little,
but in this cage, you
have no defense,
I snatch my chance
to deploy my beast.

I have an audience
I´ll never meet
and here, it pops:
spleen in the air,
a stomping, simmering
sense of unfair and:
a paperwork issue, that´s all.

If anyone were listening
They´d think I´d been kidnapped
maybe injured a limb
or misplaced a child;
I picture you, trembling,
your mild ways trampled;

My throat, a surge of steel,
inside it, a gun, hankering to shoot,
this is my moment to scream it out,
blurt out the shit,
retrieve the doubt
and then–

We hang up,
no solution was found
no bomb went off,
you make a note to file,
I examine the ground for shrapnel
but only my shame
was lying around.




Madeleine Penman lives in Mexico City. She is a researcher at an international human rights organization and writes poetry as a way to find refuge from a world of politics, opinions, and beliefs.

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