My poem Anxious Madonna in VEXT Magazine

art by Reiner Langer

The anxious Madonna

            After Lee Ballentine

After midnight she walks through the empty house
The Madonna without child
The bottoms of her feet slap the wooden floor
She counts each creak
like beads wrapped round fingers
The second floor board from the kitchen door
The one in the hallway
Each floorboard complains predictably
She makes her rounds
One footfall follows another
This one then the next
Always counting

The quieter the night the noisier the house becomes
Pipes knock on her consciousness
Warn of yet another catastrophe

Shadows mock her
Call her Madonna X
The Xanax queen flung from the night sky
counting the hours until she swallows another moon

One step follows another
A bipedal metronome
Accompanied by a halleluiah chorus of creaks
Perseverance a virtue
Perseverating a diagnostic criterion
Outside the sky is dark
Urban blight blots out her sister stars
The only illumination artificial
The only peace momentary
The empty womb long since pawned
(She needed cash and she needed it fast)

Amorphous anxiety crescendos into fears
Fears become phobias
She looks at the clock on stove
Rushes to the bedside stand and grabs the bottle
Swallows without water
Her breath so loud she holds it until it stills
Counts her pulse rate

When it slows she sits an hour or two
without the lights
until it’s time to pace again
counting floorboards
counting her steps
counting creaks
counting sighs

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