The New Lobotomist by Jill Klein


returned from lunch
encumbered. She had
a puppy. He wasn’t with her
physically, but she made a bed
for him in her head, and now he sat up
wagging and tapping her memory
stick. Should she throw it?

She had been in the middle
of brain division,
not left from right, but bells
from cows, legs from tables, heads
from erasers, and make sure lines
never combine with roofs, hems,
or any kind of conga. Or assembly.
All thoughts must be simple.

Outside, nothing could be divided.
Clumps of lilies became acres. Copulating
couples grew old, entwined
like jumper cables
in a trunk. There were no more
primary colors.

How much suffering have you eliminated
so far?
her supervisor asked. She was back

with synapses, her hands cutting
so much consciousness, awareness,
enough puffiness to stuff a bed. This one
had succumbed:

fair trade, green clean, save the whales sex slaves;
fight poverty cravings blight might; count calories
salaries number of women and handicapped parking

She removed her earbuds to listen
as the single worldwide flock of birds
passed over. She saw the showers
striped with brown
before the sky blackened. Her puppy
would not go out tonight.



Jill Klein is an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College, after years of raising teenagers and an earlier career as a corporate banker. She has poems published or forthcoming in Bellingham Review, Borderlands, Cold Mountain Review, Rattle, and others. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her engineering husband.