by Cathy Wittmeyer

a mortician plucks glass from a teen’s cheeks
& lips & eyes

careful to restore a perfect complexion
& symmetry of smile.

	 not all birds make suicidal dives before fenders
         going full throttle

         not all the finches, in varied mixes of male and female,
         are frenzied by love, desire, or envy, maybe

a doctor races to stop internal organs bleeding
& the oral surgeon paces

the patient’s live teeth - roots packed in ice -
in his hand

	 the lucky swallows survive to plunge another day
         feathered roadkill in the hood, unlucky

tires screech, inky exhaust permeates
summer window screens

it is still a thing here in my backwoods hometown
to show-off 

the truck bed swinging like a tetherball
in the intersection where


  	 a child piles leaves & flowers on an ill-fated starling
         its tongue protrudes

stiffened in the gravel of the soft shoulder 
of a country road

it is indeed a thing here on cicada courting nights
to race pickups 

 – 4 at a time – through the CAUTION corner sign:
an adrenaline-charged version of chicken.

a mother drives a crucifix in soft ground 
for the mourners’ flowers,

drapes a banner bearing the girl’s name over the shoulders 
of the cross – a reminder
and weight

Cathy Wittmeyer is a poet, mother, lawyer and engineer from Buffalo, New York. She works in Austria and lives in a wooden house across the border with her adorable family. She earned her MFA in poetry from Carlow University in 2020. She is the founder of Word to Action, a climate-themed-poetry retreat and performance in Liechtenstein. Her chapbook, knotted, was a finalist in the Broken River Prize. See more of her work at

Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash