Two Poems by Shannon Phillips



A dad calls out “No beso?” and purses his lips

to a son unkissed and smirking,

already walking off to class with mine.

Later on, working—always

on—I admire in pictures

the articulate limbs of a burlesque

performer, and I wonder

if she is the one.

Again, working—

I can’t decide

am I in love with Pamukkale,

and her tiered mineral baths,

or with the saying “Cairo writes,

Beirut publishes, and Baghdad reads”?

I have never been.

The only place I know

is my own body.

The only language I speak

is a moment, a glance,

a bite—just enough

to savor.



Two black cats, the perfect

accessories to my boyfriend’s

austere town home: white carpet,

white walls.

They could hide nowhere really,

so it was no wonder they were

thoroughly enamored with the dark

musty space underneath where

the new bathtub was being put in.

When the plumbing was completed

and the wall finally sealed up,

they’d both lounge in the bathroom

and mourn while we brushed our teeth.

When it didn’t stop after a few weeks,

I began to wonder if they had stashed

corpses of birds or mice or maybe

had erected an altar and were devastated

at no longer being able to worship their

cat-god in private. But then I thought,

Silly human, cats pray to no one.


Shannon Phillips earned her MFA in creative writing from California State University, Long Beach. In 2011, she started Carnival, an online literary magazine, which she transitioned into Picture Show Press. She is the recipient of the 28th Moon Prize from Writing In A Woman’s Voice and the author of two chapbooks: Body Parts (dancing girl press) and My Favorite Mistake (Arroyo Seco Press). When she is not busy courting her cat’s affection, she is probably obsessing over something: a line, a muse, a font. Tweet her @hungrybookstore.

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