in death, our teeth
lay      deep      beneath body-dust—
yesterday’s wriggly bacteria
the green tomatoes of      confederacy.
miles of history buried           deep,
trash heaps of eternal plastic beads.
solo cup      the grimy
sulfuric fountain of youth.
grandchildren are not in flesh
but in bones long undone by animation.

do you see it all? she whispered.
innocence clenched by years of
Midwest flatness, she pointed skeleton
fingers at rivers and seven-sons,
snapped blurry pictures and
“sadness is easier because it is surrender.”
when we grow old, the world
becomes flat and obscure—
it is the children who see in shapes.

i was born from love clicked
into a pulsating Morse code
from Vietnam and because
there was toilet paper to be stocked.
catfish gush through their own blood
and we cut our tongues into crosses
we fail we fail we fail we fail
and though it is a miracle to be alive
and one day decay to time-traveling root-veins,
we are here as result of desire—survival.
we cry yelp—help—
to a God
we remind ourselves to believe in every day.

we are here

we are here

dotdotdotdot, dot, dotdashdot, dot


Celina McManus writes poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Babe Soda, Crooked Teeth Lit Mag, Maudlin House, Cosmographia, and Z Publishing’s “Minnesota’s Best Emerging Poets.” She was a finalist for the Loft Mentor Series for fiction. She lives and works in St. Paul, Minnesota as a youth advocate and spends her free time in bodies of water with any pal who may join her.