God Is a Medicine Cabinet by Cynthia Atkins

This is egregious, the mind’s parlor is being wooed
Before breakfast—Even before hitting the sticky
gymnasium floor. The keys to your ethos
held accountable in a drowning pool
of munitions. Swerving on a slick road like mood
hoodlums on the lamb. Offered a cigarette on
the front lines, to come back and report on
the internal conflict—Yes, every day is triage.
You are the wedge between East and West.
You are someone else’s war chest. The pharmacist’s
widow sanctioned pills like beads in a rosary.
Every day you are a cloud held-up
by tooth-picks. Battle weary and boot-legged
to the nth—Every suit-case holds scrimped labels
implying you have filled out many papers and forms.
You’ve crossed boundary lines, while red sirens
Howl with the dogs. On two feet, you landed
here—A cotton-knoll down a lane
of pretend, that moment when as a kid
you learned how to swallow and let go.





Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers and In The Event of Full Disclosure (CW books, 2013). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including, Alaska Quarterly Review, Afrikana.ng, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Del Sol Review, Florida Review, Green Mountains Review, Harpur Palate, Hermeneutic Chaos, Le Zaporogue, North American Review, Poetry Fix, Prairie Schooner, Seneca Review, Tampa Review, Valparaiso Review and Verse Daily, and nominated for a 2013, 2014, 22015 Pushcart Prize.  She is formerly the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently, at Virginia Western Community College.  Atkins earned her MFA from Columbia University and has earned fellowships and prizes from Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, The Writer’s Voice and Writers@Work. She lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, VA with artist, Phillip Welch and their family. More info at: www.cynthiaatkins.com


Photo credit: Alexis Rhone Fancher

  1. It’s very appropriate in our times to wonder if “better living through chemistry” doesn’t have its consequences. This is beautifully and intelligently wrought.

  2. Cynthia Atkins is one of the finest poets writing today. “Every day you are a cloud held-up by tooth-picks.” One line better than the next. Extraordinary visuals and use of metaphor. Simply brilliant work!

    1. Alexis: Those words mean the world to me from a poet I so admire–merci, mi bella—sis’ poet extraordinaire *author or my author photo too!

  3. “Every day you are a cloud held-up by tooth-picks” seems to have caught the attention of many, yet there are other images worth noting, too. An excellent specimen!

  4. Is it possible to never learn that trick of swallowing and letting go? Could I explode? Beautiful poem. My cloud has slipped down and is sitting on the ground. It will rise again.

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