Ritual on Days Misbehaved. | Glitter City. | Lullaby From Behind. by Matthew Feinstein

Father grips the shopping cart—
his dazed pupils zombie-wander

aisles of paper plates, turkey basters.
Spittle dangles off his lip’s cliff—wiggles

like parental pointer finger. Tinfoil slaps him alert.
My mother’s worn face is locked in a daydream—

she chops clean off her finger dicing onions.
I steal it from the counter to study

like an ancient oak’s severed torso.
Father crafts masks—

rip,               rip,               rip,
with frustrated hands.

The familiar moment slaps me: Bonfire.
Everyone blood-tie connection. Tinfoil masks.

Heat clinging to their awe-plagued faces.
My lamb limbs strung tight to a plank.

My pupils shriek poems that can’t be
written for years.

My masked father scorching his face
on the BBQ flame.

Glitter City.
Where roads shine upside down
and construction worker Jackhammers
noise smooth songs,
sing for me.

It’s okay to be happy.

And this street can’t be
violent for miles.

And flower-art.

And lovers moaning above us paint
even alleyways pretty.

                            Cradle your garbage
                            like a newborn
                            worth loving.

And safety. And lullabies about paradise.
Humming. Fishing glitter
from yesterday’s muck

to clone
                          and clone
                                                         and clone
until the dirt in the sewer
turns to                              delusional myth.

Lullaby From Behind.
It hurt to own ears in class.
The only verbal student there, I cupped
the sides of my head as a defense against shrieking.

Impatient aides watched students push buttons
on their AAC devices—

mad              no              help
look              stop            again
leave             you            go

                    Spelling test on my desk—

                    Bubble                          Cat
                    Dog                          Apple

I asked a girl to the dance.
She rejected me when I was called
to line up with the Special Needs kids.

Behind me, a boy, his surname also F—
spoke in lullabies. When he sung,

I forgot how to be lonely. Only two weeks
at that school, and still,
I hear it—
                                Something sweet.
                                Something about paradise.

Matthew Feinstein is a neurodivergent poet originally from Tracy, California. He holds an AA in English from Butte College, a BA in English - Creative Writing from CSU Long Beach, and is an MFA candidate at Randolph College. His poems have appeared in Poetry Online, HAD, Heavy Feather Review, Inflectionist Review, Kissing Dynamite, and elsewhere. He served as a poetry reader for Revolute Magazine and co-founded Plum Recruit Magazine, and he currently serves as a poetry reader for Pidgeonholes. He is the author of the chapbook Breeds of Breath (Alien Buddha Press, 2020). He currently resides in Anaheim, California. matthewfeinsteinwriter.com/