Michelle J. Fernandez

Two Poems – Michelle J. Fernandez

Michelle J. Fernandez is a reference librarian living in Center Square. Her poetry has appeared in the disability journal Wordgathering, and in Tonguas, the literary journal of the University of Puerto Rico. Michelle’s 2014 novella, The Pedestrians, was published in serial format by Novella-T. She has just completed work on her first novel.



She snaps:

“Do I look like I have time to write poetry?”

She has a point.
In fact, she has multiple points.
Joints jutting from every corner of her body,
a sea urchin out of water.

She is built like my junkie ex-lover
bounces down the street,
the world a morphine trampoline,
demanding-nay-stealing from angel babies to feed the decaying demon,
while she
slumps away from one of thirty-five jobs
to the give-a-damn bus station
to catch the bus
which will take her to a train
which will take her to a bus
mechanically, not-lookingly, dropping two cents into
the Dr. Pepper cup in his outstretched manacle.
“Don’t spend it all in one place.”

No, she doesn’t have time to write poetry
and she crashes into the seat on the bus,
rim-shot bones denote the punch line of the joke,
pulls a volume of Lorca from
her laundry bag/pocketbook/daughter’s backpack
as the bus jolts awake.
She begins to read
but has to stop after one stanza
on account of the motion sickness.


Operant Conditioning

I was scooping your litter
from the box I kept under the steel desk in the corner
of that dingy studio,
all utilities included,
in the Center Square of early adulthood.

Rising, scoop in hand,
I slammed the back of my head into the underside of the desk top
and yelped in surprise
and idiotic pain.

Swiftly and purposefully,
as if performing a chore,
you bolted across the filthy carpet,
God, it was wall-to-wall carpet, wasn’t it?
to where I sat rubbing my head,
and bit me on the arm.

Just a nip.
Just to show
who’s boss.

(Here I am slaving
tending to his feces
upholding my end of the bargain
and the ungrateful beast!
He bites me! He dares!)

I snatched you up and held you like a baby,
hand on head,
and stared into your crazy yellow snake eyes
seeking an answer.
You squirmed away, stretching your back legs out with each step
as if waking from a nap.

I knotted up the plastic bag and tossed it in the trash,
sleepily reached
my hand up to rub the wound
as I’d surely earned the right to do.

But god damn if I didn’t
forget just where the pain was.