Five Poems by Courtney Kampa




“Yeah, I’m at The Red Egg, I’m calling
from the bathroom—that leggy chick Dennis
introduced me to is out there with our plate
of edamame, and dude you know that 
documentary on Saharan lions I rented 
that you and Nate wouldn’t watch
so I had to watch it by myself? There’s 
this part where a lioness totally dismembers
an antelope, and the blood’s everywhere
and she’s got this crazy look on her face
like it’s her birthday or something. 
This is that. She’s pulling the edamame
out by her teeth, really yanks them
like she thinks they’re trying to escape. 
And this is only the appetizer—
she’s gonna need a body bag to take
stuff home. What? Well yeah she’s hot,
but in the scariest sense of the word. 
I’m freaking out man, I feel like if I go sit
back down, anything could happen.”




“If you’re not gonna tell her, I am. 
If you’re gonna sit there smiling
while our little girl brings home a clown
like that. I don’t like this at all, I got
a real bad smell off that guy. 
Don’t act like you didn’t notice how
he peeled that orange. I’ve never seen
anyone so confused by a piece of fruit. 
Acting like you handed him a Rubik’s cube
to snack on. Good God, Kate. No,
I’m serious. You want grandkids? If you
think that guy’s gonna give you 
grandkids, you’re crazy. I’ll be nice
about it, don’t worry, I’ll be a goddamn
poet—I just gotta pull her aside
and remind her people die all the time
without ever knowing simple things 
about themselves. She’ll get what I mean.” 




“How I met your grandmother? 
I wasn’t looking for a woman to keep 
me, if that’s what you mean. I must have 
been twenty-five at the time. Too poor 
to get drunk. She was wearing this
little yellow sweater with pearl buttons.” 
Pink, Donald,” says the other room. 
“Alright, it was pink—(she gave up being mean 
to me for Lent but don’t buy it) my point 
is I was just a kid from the Bronx, I was 
in way over my head. Every time 
I looked at her I’d start talking about Tokyo 
firebombs. The whole city going up 
like cardboard. And Louise, Louise had 
this hair I knew would make my mother 
proud—we were all pretty happy  
to be Irish those days. But the Kennedys 
cured me of that.”



“There’s this place where when you come
I’ll have to take you: one of those 
old school diners with a man behind the counter 
mouthing off, and tonight he goes, ‘Can I
help you?’ to this girl who wouldn’t sit
down, and she’s like, ‘Oh, I’m just looking
for someone,’ and he goes, ‘Sweetheart, we’re all 
looking for someone,’ and I’m pretending
to read my book, thinking Where am I?
and then in the middle of refilling my coffee
he runs—like, books it—to this shitty 
little banged-around radio and turns it up,
and he’s like, laughing, sort of, in that sick way
your sister does, and goes, ‘I wait my whole shift 
to hear this guy.’ Some late-night deejay
with a stutter. He kept saying stuff like
That’s not ssssssssssssstatic, folks, that’s just mm-me.”




“The whole cellular regeneration thing 
really keeps you on your toes, 
you know? It’s like, hi husband, who 
are you today? I read the first bit 
of an article in the waiting room 
about how we grow totally new cells 
every seven years and shed the old ones
like baby teeth. Johnny’s started
getting up in the middle of the night
to eat chocolate. Not even the
good kind—cheap stuff he takes out 
of the kids’ Halloween candy. The man’s
become half guesswork, half given 
on a need-to-know basis. I put my hand 
on the back of his neck this morning
and was sure I’d never touched him 
there before.”