It’s in the paint




We painted our rooms like war horses. Slashed colors scorched the walls and made wall paper faint. These explosions put the fear of god into people. Shapes spoiled over doorways, hatched numbers kept time above flowered vintage lamps that humbled people because they said, yes, I am big and loud and in full bloom- like you will never be- and I wanted things and I took them. Shelves radiated words and letters and titles to apocalyptic worlds amazing and tiny warrior dolls, mounted on posts, silently commented on all who surveyed them.




Searing sun shot through sea glass tentacles by day and even at dusk dared to say, I am here with you. See me. See me. The colors hung from the ceilings like forgotten bodies, dripped from the corners scaring the pets, spilled into the throughway, killed confused spiders, spurt out onto the rug and could not be cleaned. “We will never clean ourselves” the colors shrieked- the harpies had come home to roost.




Then it was time to leave. We annihilated our stories, shredded our records, purged our love, hid our fights – the words smothered into the texture of the walls– behind the colors and the prints and the home made art and the frames and the dust balls. Our found objects, our joint everything, our whimsical rainbow knick knacks– We had to pick up our colors and take them with us. They threw a tantrum. They would not come. “We will stay here until we rot,” the colors screamed. We pleaded and cried. We cajoled. They would not come. So it was done. Beige, that old khaki wearing blue blood burst in. Top siders and all, he had his way. The colors, silenced.


Jennifer MacBain-Stephens has poems published in Superstition Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Burningwood Literary Journal, The Apeiron Review, Dead Flowers: A Poetry Rag, Star 82 Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, Rufous City Review, and Iowa City’s 2013 Poetry in Public Project. She has poems forthcoming in Eunoia Review, The New Poet, Scapegoat Review, and The Squalor Review.