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"50 Words at a Time," a poem by Gleah Powers

50 Words at a Time

Whenever you smoke I know trouble is coming.

The creases in your baggy pant legs are full of ash.

Your hair spikes and tells me something follows you.

You’re attracting bugs.

The stars can see you.

If you keep this up, you’ll become fodder for the moon.


On the day I was born John the Baptist hovered

Forceps left their mark

Is that why I could never do math?

Was anyone in the waiting room?


In North Carolina, I stayed at a bed and breakfast on a goat

farm where they made cheese. The goats tried to eat my pants. I

wanted to lie down and sleep. South Wind Farms, the massage

school where I was teaching, was up the road past three Baptist



I write school papers.

At modeling school I learn to give myself a manicure.

My mother takes a picture of me filing my nails.

I pose for school photos.

I don’t look dead.


Waiting for a ship to come in, rock its way across the desert

to Berridge Lane and deliver the princess from her misery,

her drugs, the burglar alarm, and the bars on the windows.


“Sweet and low will make you fat,”

says the ex fashion model who lives on chocolate,

fear and horoscopes from 3 different magazines,

waiting for her hair to grow back so she can go to spas

and give lectures on nutrition.


What kind of blowjobs does a calligrapher that sometimes

makes money and sometimes doesn’t, give?


Painting by Gleah Powers: “Private Graffiti"

48” x 36” Acrylic and Oil on canvas

Gleah Powers is the author of Million Dollar Red: A Memoir, and Edna and Luna, an award-winning novella. A Pushcart nominee, a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and a grantee of a prize from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, her work has appeared in print and online in various outlets. She completed her formal art training at the California Institute of the Arts and has worked professionally as a painter, actor and dancer in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Visit her website at

"50 Words at a Time" appears in Canopic Jar 35: an anthology.

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