After “Litany” by Billy Collins



I’m a broom and its dustpan, the sharp tip

of a long knife, watermelon, cool side


of the pillow on a muggy night. I’m the red

squirrel scrambling up a screen door, a dandelion.


I’m not gingerbread or lace of any kind;

not on collars, tatted doilies. I’m not the ocean,


prick of a cactus, a long-stemmed glass, bottle

or carafe of red wine. I fancy myself Egyptian


turquoise, a Paul Klee painting—geometrics

in soft pastels, hung on a plastered wall.


I’ve never been whiskers on cats, gerbils.

Not an apron—clean, maybe, never smeared


with flour, tomato sauce, greasy anything; not

the moon, though its craters are my thoughts.


I would love to be, but sadly not, the sounds

of Thelonious Monk, Johnny Mathis’ croon, Barbra.


I am a branch scraping a tin roof, fall from

a skyscraper, never hitting ground, a ripe


banana turned brown overnight, coffee without

enough cream. I am, in my dreams, a queen-size


bed in the center of a room—impeccably made,

four crisp corners, blue cotton spread, a throw,


mattress firm enough to hold a life of secrets,

soft enough to burrow in, fall slowly apart.


Hari B Parisi

Hari B Parisi’s (formerly Hari Bhajan Khalsa) poems have been published in numerous journals and are forthcoming in Thuya Poetry Review, The Blood Pudding, Two Hawks Quarterly and Inklet. She is the author of three volumes of poetry, most recently, She Speaks to the Birds at Night While They Sleep, winner of the 2020 Tebot Bach Clockwise Chapbook Contest. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Website:

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