6.11 / September 2011

Two Poems

Serial Killers’ Grocery Lists

listen to this poem



Fred is currently in the cooling off period between his murders.  Fred was a good student at Fairmount High School, in Wyoming, and was active in a local church, serving as Vice President of the Youth Fellowship. He believes he has cured himself of his eczema with a steady diet of prayer, eggs, and limited sunlight.  He travels to the grocery store once every three months.

squirt gun
cat food
½ gallon of milk
apples etc.
dye remover



Joan is 5’8” and weighs 200 pounds.  She is a strong and by most standards, an attractive woman.  When she wakes up, she thinks that it is so terrifying, waiting for the city to compose itself.  She has a true love that she corresponds with almost every day.  In one of their last correspondences she wrote: “My heart beats in wild rapture for you, my Matthew, I love you. Come prepared to stay forever.”


2 bunches of grapes: 1 red 1 green
1 loaf semolina bread
1 jar hot peppers
Push pins
1 container smoked almonds
2 packages fancy white paper napkins
Plastic Baggies (any brand)
Feta Cheese
3 Ghirardelli  bittersweet chocolate bars


No one knows -‘s name, not even her creator.  She moves between thoughts as to go undetected.  The one doctor she ever visited told her it would be easiest to forget her past, but she doesn’t remember him saying this.  She hates the color red and tries to rid the world of it in any way she can.  When on her period, she notes its occurrence in every room she enters, “I am menstruating in the kitchen.  I am menstruating in the laundromat.  I am menstruating in the coffee shop,” and so forth.


Dried Apricots (2 bags)
Saran Wrap
Lean Cuisine (Sundried Tomato Pesto Chicken)



Nic cannot get enough.  She finds the piercing yet warm attention her victims surrender to her comforting.  Once captured, she lets her victims loose in an open field, hunts and kills them while running memories of her father’s smile into and out of her mind.  She is gratified when thinking that there is always more that needs to be done.


2 bags almonds
2 gallons of milk
4 New York Strip Steaks
6 Valu packs of gum
3 cake mix
10 vegetable beef soup cans
12 pack Pepsi
Ziploc bags (a lot)

Loss Harvesting

listen to this poem

And now there is yesterday and somehow every moment must be authentic.  I bought a suit six months ago and I’m still wearing it.  There was a short there is a hedge.  Uncertainty, like any unruly cadaver, creeps this way, then that.  So I thought the leaves off the trees, I thought them green, then amber, then loose, then falling.  Petrified and falling slowly, cotton in the mouth the two of us, fell down half a flight of stairs at the same time the ticker told me.  The siren sounded and the men ran, neither had anything to do with each other, it must have just been coincidence that linked them together, to me.  There is no us except when we were falling.  There is nothing authentic about coincidence except for the promise of one.  Like aversion therapy, like the woman who said “I don’t know how I keep ending up in Midtown,” like the piano player in the marble lobby, cascading fingers for the rush of it.

Tess Patalano received her MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Tess has been published in Transfer and Generations. She lives in Brooklyn with a male human and a female dog. Writing is her passion, staying alive is her strong suit (at the moment).
6.11 / September 2011