Ariel Machell

irritant peculiar


you’ve spread your jam                  too thick

the bread is weeping      raspberries

& I’m still night-thinking      how you

didn’t understand     when I said I’m sick


of red brick & the greedy      flick

of squirreltail—      or you lied


either way     I’ve stripped the birdseed

from the trees      emptied my coin purse

spent it all on buckets      of paint—

“stop fiddling &       sweep up the trimmings”


god      the bees are getting      smaller     

look at them      & we’re all talking


in beelines—      (that is     in no lines

at all)      “one never does know     

what one’s saying”     you’re always saying


thought clipsing mouth       & I haven’t got      

the proper eyewear     





Lemonade with too much sugar      and the look

of a woman      who’s felt       the hummingbird’s 

wake      has held herself      quivering            

in her own hands      wrested from the quick


When the lightbulb      died      you worried 

it from the lamp and      cradled it      in your palms    

the way the tongue fixates     on the last       baby        

tooth      the quiet      unseen rattling


All I could think of      that night      was the moth 

bumbling      clumsy      into aimless flight

gunning itself      into the walls      How it perched 

once      briefly      on my nose 


Days later      when I found the cat      batting

its dried      husk          round on the kitchen floor                  

I wondered      what would have      been 

had I opened      the window

Ariel Machell is a poet from California. She received her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the 2018 Silverman Family Memorial Award in Poetry from USC. She lives with her cat, Fern, and fellow poet, Vanessa Batyko, in East Hollywood. Her work has most recently been published in Gravel Literary Journal.