by Leigh Chadwick


My mouth is full of Chiclets. My husband plucks them from my mouth, one by one, not bothering to chew as he swallows them whole. He doesn’t stop until my mouth is empty, until it is nothing but a black hole. Good breath, he calls me. My second dessert.

When I open my mouth, the black hole grows. The black hole sucks in everything around me: country miles and Wal-Mart parking lots and Trader Joe’s parking lots and high school parking lots and amusement parks and gun shows and movie theatres, with their sticky floors and all. Then, it’s entire towns followed by entire cities.

After the cities are gone, I come for the countries. Time zones. Entire continents. I use the Cape of Good Hope for a toothpick. I drink the Atlantic Ocean. I swallow ghosts and lottery numbers and the bleach stains at the bottom of mop buckets. I swallow swallows. Penguins, even the penguins are gone. Nothing fills me. I use the Dead Sea as mouthwash. I balloon into a second sky. A third heaven. My stomach swirls. I have indigestion. I vomit both of the Dakotas. I cough a forest fire.



Leigh Chadwick is the author of the chapbook, Daughters of the State (Bottlecap Press, 2021), and the poetry coloring book, This Is How We Learn How to Pray (ELJ Editions, 2021). Wound Channels, her full-length poetry collection, and Pretend I Am Real, a novel written in vignettes, will be simultaneously released by ELJ Editions in February of 2022. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in SalamanderHeavy Feather ReviewIndianapolis Review, and Milk Candy Review, among others. Find her on Twitter at @LeighChadwick5.