“Villanelle over Spilled Milk” by Lizabeth Yandel

Lizabeth Yandel


every evening the milk spills at dinner.
my puny hand grabs the plastic chalice, fails.
dad swings his fist down like a hammer.
the plates shiver and the tinny silver-
ware shrieks. sister’s wide eyes silently wail
don’t you spill that fucking milk at dinner
but we both know i’m the baby sinner,
i put my hand between my legs like a tail.
dad slams down like a white-knuckle pastor.
tv’s ted danson & kelsey grammer
rerunning dad’s good old tavern days,
now they gulp sorry milk with their liquor.
my milky heart jumps out onto a platter.
tv jingles our troubles are all the same!
sad dad’s mad fist, a wind-up doll of anger
we can’t unwind. & ever after, the danger
rerunning where everybody knows your _____
where the milk is ever spilling at dinner
where all the hands are fists are hammers

from Rattle #83, Spring 2024


Lizabeth Yandel: “Poetry allows me to reach beyond the precipice of human consciousness into the abyss of what we don’t yet understand and siphon something back. If there’s a point to art, I believe this is it. Even if it’s just the sense of something new, a faint silhouette, I feel I’ve done my job as an artist. Also, I seem to just write poems compulsively. I can’t help myself.” (web)

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