Thursday May 23

WheelockJennifer Jennifer Wheelock is a poet and painter living in Los Angeles. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many print and digital journals and anthologies, including Chattahoochee Review, Muse/A Journal, Cortland Review, Los Angeles Review, Post Road, Valparaiso Review, Lake Effect, Flycatcher, Diagram, River Styx, Atlanta Review, and The Inflectionist Review. She works at UCLA.

Living Outside Normal

Colonial blue Victorians guarded by white pickets,
a hardware store that smelled of peat and metal.
Main street’s Christmas decorations hung
well into February, crucified on their lamp posts.
The waitress at the local diner wouldn’t look
us in the eyes, no matter how we tried
to trick her into it. At the grocery, we seemed
to be the only customers expected to bag our own.
Our Mennonite neighbors spoke just once—
to let us know they’d called the sheriff
because our twelve-year-old poodle had peed
through the fence and sprayed their petunias.
Then they went back to their favorite pastime—
backyard archery—aiming their arrows
at a target on their toolshed. The crows
over the cornfields swooped too close
on my morning walks, and the winds,
with no hills to break them, stabbed.
Only the woman at the town’s tiny post office
was warm and friendly, took the time
to learn our names. I went there every day
to mail a letter and for a stamp of approval.