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Ruth Madievsky



Outside a man is screaming,

my window open, so inside he is screaming too.

I keep picking at an enchilada

I bought hours ago, taking a few bites

before closing the lid, an hour later

reopening the lid, to find

that it’s gotten bigger, the red sauce

redder, the pico de gallo

suddenly full of corn. The man

I love is directing actors in Westwood,

while a man I do not love

is washing egg yolks

off his car, which are the same color

as the patient I visited

at seven this morning, who’d been dead

for two hours when I came by to ask

if he was in pain. Maybe

if I re-watch the old cartoon in which a man

kicks the spots off a turtle, I’ll understand something

about the fragility

of selfhood, about trespass.

Maybe if I have a beer, if I finish

this enchilada, this feeling of want

will go away. But want, like cancer,

tends only to multiply, like the cries of a man

who has lost something

for which he never had a name.








An X-Acto knife. A muscle spasm. A pack of AA batteries. A stairwell. A woman who stares at ceiling fans. A blue-throated lizard. A mushroom. A needle that does what needles do. A light switch. An antacid. A pile of piano keys. A beehive. A husband kissing his wife. A knee kissing a curb. A karaoke bar. A urine sample. A virus inside a bloodstream. A pill inside a woman. A baby tooth. A bag of popcorn. A broken condom. A dog walker. A flea market that sells only mirrors. A rape joke. A smoothie. A nude photo. A freeway overpass. A gun leaving its holster. Blood leaving a body. A man looking to set something on fire. Perhaps himself.

Caitlin Scarano poems

Ruth Madievsky is the author of a poetry collection, “Emergency Brake,” which was named Tavern Books’ 2015 Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series selection and was published in February 2016. Ruth’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, ZYZZYVA, Rattle, and elsewhere. She was a 2015 Tin House scholar in poetry and reads chapbook submissions for Gold Line Press. She is originally from Moldova and lives in Los Angeles, where she is a doctoral student at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. You can find her at

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