Lessons in Emergency

by | Jun 2, 2016 | Poetry

Learn to break glass to take what you need with you when you go

Learn to tie shoes quickly to find the emergency medications the rations the earthquake kit

Is it in your car that you feel safest? Your house? Are you one more Lois Lane with sand coming in the windows trying to break the glass? Are you waiting for some Superman are you waiting because

in the strictest sense, what can you live without? Water food toilet paper a toothbrush your laptop your cat your husband your little boy your wait a second what am I forgetting?

Quick! The sirens are blaring you shove your palms over your ears – where do you take cover?

Do you ever watch your landscape and wonder where it might collapse? Buildings, tunnels, forest groves, bridges. When you watch the earth tear apart like thin skin you think briefly everything is so fragile.

In the end you are still yourself, yourself a little dustier a little blood in the hair maybe a bit rattled but why are you clutching the egg-beater in your hands so tight, your fingers still touched with flour? You ask yourself: is now the time for cake?

Frank O’Hara tells you to become a blonde, as religious as a profligate Frenchman. You slip his words in your pocket and run.



Photo by Stefano Corso

About The Author

Jeannine Hall Gailey

Jeannine Hall Gailey is the Seattle-area author of Becoming the Villainess (Steel Toe Books, 2006) and She Returns to the Floating World (Kitsune Books, 2011) which is an Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist. Her poems were featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac and on Verse Daily; two were included in 2007’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and Crab Orchard Review; she reviews books for The Rumpus. She volunteers as an editorial consultant for Crab Creek Review and currently teaches part-time at the MFA program at National University.