TWI Poet: Janna Grace

I smell like onions

after eating your story
it’s the same rose
of corn
that bubbles in a stew
of your chunky untruth.

It makes me sick
my mom says because we cannot process
onions and garlic and leeks
that our bodies cannot take it in
it spills them out
every pore.

Even the ducts
at the corners of my eyes
are leaking now

yet, I come back
for a second helping
and a third, and so many more
that my stomach bursts
and onion grass grows
from the crater.

10mg two times a day, with food

Before you I was sure
I was fine.

I stayed in bed all day
because I wanted to.

I didn’t shower
because I didn’t feel like it.

I didn’t call people back
because I would do it later.

I smiled and went to work and put clothes on sometimes
because then they would leave me alone.

Before you, I didn’t cook, I didn’t clean, didn’t grab coffee, didn’t go hiking, didn’t read, didn’t brush my teeth, didn’t say “I love you,” didn’t paint my nails, didn’t kiss you, didn’t drive, didn’t add whipped cream, didn’t pop the bubbles on the bubble wrap, didn’t spread my toes in mud, didn’t scratch my dog’s belly, didn’t choose the stairs, didn’t cry (all the time), didn’t click my fingernails on my desk, didn’t change my sheets, didn’t close any tabs, didn’t notice the 4 o’clock sun, didn’t change my clothes, didn’t let you hug me, didn’t change out of my pajamas, didn’t replace the batteries, didn’t throw rocks, didn’t wear pajamas, didn’t quote Michael Scott, didn’t volunteer, didn’t buy toilet paper, didn’t wash dishes, didn’t notice my freckles in spring, didn’t try to not step on the cracks, didn’t highlight my hair, didn’t believe you when you said you love me, didn’t hear my stomach growl, didn’t look in shop windows, didn’t update my address, didn’t ask for back rubs, didn’t chew ice, didn’t fist pump, didn’t get hoarse to Bonnie Tyler, didn’t wonder if you were guilt-tripping me, didn’t dream, didn’t hold chalk lightly in my palm, while teaching, didn’t run to the bodega, didn’t brush my hair, didn’t buy fresh flowers, didn’t stir the gravy, didn’t put on mascara, didn’t plant herbs, didn’t weigh myself, didn’t know who was running for midterms, didn’t kneel down to talk to my nephew, didn’t ask for a raise, didn’t didn’t bring out the recyclables, didn’t watch crackers dissolve in my soup, didn’t wonder if she might be pregnant, didn’t think things could be different, didn’t see how far I could spit, didn’t put the milk away in the fridge, didn’t take selfies, didn’t save photos of Edward Gorey in fur to my desktop, didn’t clink glasses and cheers, didn’t trace my stretch marks, didn’t donate money, didn’t pick up perfect skipping stones, didn’t want to be a daughter, didn’t save articles about Amelia Earhart, didn’t pluck my eyebrows, didn’t remember “good times,” didn’t feel full, didn’t request time off, didn’t watch reruns of the Golden Girls, didn’t feel hungry, didn’t worry about your blood pressure, didn’t check if my breasts could hold up a toothbrush, didn’t throw out socks with holes in them, definitely didn’t floss, didn’t kick mushrooms and then feel bad about it, didn’t put on lotion, didn’t chew pen caps, didn’t dog-ear pages, didn’t buy candy in the checkout line, didn’t dust, didn’t listen to popcorn slowing down in the microwave, didn’t listen to music in the car, didn’t try to take pictures of the moon, didn’t look both ways before crossing, didn’t fight back, didn’t wear slippers, didn’t stretch my back out, didn’t read the directions, didn’t remember holidays, didn’t update my phone, didn’t open cards, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t…

because I didn’t
deserve to and hope
was a word for people on Instagram and driftwood

I didn’t smile
because my teeth were tired.

All I thought about was I
and how to get back to sleep.

Before you, I didn’t make lists of the things I didn’t care about.


Janna Grace lives in a half-glass barn and her work has appeared in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Plastik Magazine, and Red Eft Review, among others. She has pieces forthcoming in Eunoia and Alpha Female Society and she teaches writing at Rutgers University. She is the editor of Lamplit Underground and her debut novel will be published through Quill Press in 2019. She is at

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