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Three Poems from Chenelle Milford


Hot-Pink Heart

I realize I am wearing the hot-pink bikini bottoms
She gave me one day in that hot upstairs hallway
As I look at the hot-pink swirls on the cover
Of her funeral program my mother sent to me

My daughter throws the hot-pink J magnet just
Because she knows how to throw things now
Her pretend kitchen is hot-pink and my heart
Beats pink and the summer would have been pink

The knife I promised I would sharpen for her
Was hot-pink—but I never followed through
I look down at my feet, and my flip-flops are hot-pink
But I won’t cry over her anymore—I will write

I won’t try not to think about her—I will write
I will not mourn or avoid her favorite songs
I will turn them up as loud as I can—I will sing
I will sing pink and yell pink and sigh pink

The road that killed her will be fixed next summer
They decided it four months before she died
Bureaucratic red-tape killed her hot-pink heart
My hot-pink lip-gloss will be her on my lips

Track Marks

Grandmother never owned a microwave
Until caregivers forced her to purchase one

She still never used that thing
Only strangers inhabiting her home

Although a private and proud woman
My sister and I slept in the house

One night to soak up what was left
Of the grandma’s-house atmosphere

Grandma drug herself across the house
From dining room table to bathroom door

Because she did not want to wake us
We both awoke anyway—found her there

We lifted her onto the toilet
Against her stubborn will

Then we carried her to the bed
That had the rails she hated so much

She wanted to die in the home she built
Even if it had amenities like a hospital

There were track marks that started
At the table where she fell

And ended at the bathroom door
Where she had given up

The place where my sister and I picked her up

Tim McGraw Twang

I wrestle with formidable fortresses.
Those waves on shore when camping
On Fourth of July cracked
Like your foot in my ribs.

The first time I smoked to Sublime
Or fucked to Led Zeppelin,
I thought about the twang
In country music and the purple

Haze of California bud.

I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to scratch
Your brand new rims;
I guess he didn’t mean to scratch
My brand new face.

Too bad we didn’t know
The best thing that would ever happen
Could be given away
To softball bats

And broken beer bottle promises.

Chenelle C. Milford, a native Californian and poet, is the manager, web-designer, consultant, all-around aficionado, and archivist of the Joe Milford Poetry Show. She is the founder and editor of the literary journal, Scythe. Some of her work is displayed on New Aesthetic at She now resides in rural Georgia with her husband and three daughters.