How to Play Yahtzee with a Ghost
Invite your granny to the dining table.
Set the red box beside her reading glasses.
Tear off two score sheets and take out two pencils.
Muffle the crashing cubes by taping a paper towel to the inside of the
Roll the dice into the box lid to keep them from falling to the floor.
Brew some coffee, just for the scent. The dishwasher should be running.
Watch the straight line of your granny’s mouth, the quick scoop of
unwanted numbers in her thin hand.
Mistake the shushed shake of the cup for her whisper: I love…
Hold on to the box lid to keep from falling to the floor.
Scattergories: A Regret
On the boat between Ireland
and Scotland, all I could think about
was crotchless panties. The category
was articles of clothing. The letter was C.
Coat. Cardigan. Cap. Clogs. Corduroys.
None of these came to me. Crotchless
panties. I was sitting beside my professor,
an older man who looked just like
the bust of Mark Twain in his office.
I could not write crotchless panties. I looked
across to my friends to gain inspiration
from their clothing—t-shirts, jeans, sneakers.
They were no help. Crotchless panties.
Crotchless panties. My pen hovered
over the paper, still. The last bit of sand
Getting off the boat, I told a friend
about getting stuck on crotchless panties.
He thought this was so funny that he
whispered it to me over and over
for the next two weeks of our trip:
walking into my first real castle crotchless
panties, buying a scarf on the Royal mile
crotchless panties, trying vegetarian haggis
crotchless panties, finding our professor
asleep in a museum crotchless panties,
eating curry in Oxford crotchless panties,
tasting Early Grey for the first time crotchless
panties, gasping at the sight of Big Ben
crotchless panties, standing beside
C.S. Lewis’s grave crotchless panties.
The words crotchless panties haunted me,
a mantra I couldn’t control.
Back in America,
I read my professor’s poem that was shaped
like a breast on the page. He was edgier
than I thought. To this day, I regret not using
the words that came to me when I needed them.
Katie Manning is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Whale Road Review and an Associate Professor of Writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman, and her first full-length poetry collection, Tasty Other, is forthcoming in November as the 2016 winner of the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. Find her online at www.katiemanningpoet.com.