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Claustrophobe’s Sonnet on Metempsychosis

Don’t worry: I’ll spare you the worms & flowers.

Instead I offer a field of green static on television.

My mother drops into the conversation

and wants you to share your favorite memory of me.

The parking lot is full. That’s how you know I was loved.

My daughter becomes a baker’s dozen of doves

—earthbound, mistaken for common pigeons—

and my dust rides a raindrop into the bottle.

But of course I stumble into these fourteen howevers

lined up along my white picket soul,

and the black hole’s collection of secondhand stars.

The soft hour makes for light luggage,

and I surrender my wings at the door:

the ceiling is low where I’m going.


ALEX TRETBAR won the 2022 PEN America Prison Writing Contest in Poetry, and was a finalist for the 2021 PEN/Edward Bunker Prize in Fiction. His poems and nonfiction have appeared in or are forthcoming from Bat City Review, Poetry Northwest, Meridian, Buckmxn Journal, HAD, and elsewhere. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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