Could Have Been by Christopher Ankney


I am proud my gums have not melted like wax,
teeth barnacled like cave droppings, meth yellow.

It is impressive I have no intricate sleeves
inking the narrative: not even a cheeky tear drop

or gravestone sweating down the elbow
as I await another stranger to commence

the juicy bits tucked inside the numbers
and letters. My head is an answering machine.

Call it an absolute miracle I did not kill the cats
or hamsters as a boy.

I didn’t hoard unopened boxes of TV figurines.
(I am the prick who laughs at priceless things.)

I do dress straight out of a Penney’s catalog:
press my pants for fear you’ll undress me.

I did land me a good girl. She loves to consider herself
a dream-catcher: I’m the feathery one.

I can’t stop looking at the sky for promise.
I’ve spent life on the stars: betting at different angles.

Christopher Ankney‘s work has appeared or soon will in journals such as Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry, Hunger Mountain, Third Coast, Prairie Schooner, and Zone 3. His first manuscript, Hearsay, has been a finalist eight times. He live in Annapolis, Maryland, with his wife and son.