Thirty-Nine Ways to Screw Up by Lois Roma-Deeley

Stick my finger in the coffee grinder while it’s still plugged in.
Ask my self this question: What was I doing
with this guy/that woman/those people?
Hate myself for being stupid.
Hate myself for ever being young.
Believe someone else is living life better than I ever could.
Leave my glasses at home. Go back for them. Drop them in the garage,
then step on them, breaking the lens.
Curse in front of children.
Think I really and completely understand something/someone.
Steal someone’s story.
Expect Ass Holes to become self-aware and remorseful.
Expect Twinkies to be good for me.
Talk to anyone my gut tells me I shouldn’t.
Take anyone home who punches a hole in the wall.
Read the news in the morning/night and wonder why a mother/father can kill her/his own child.
Think there is an answer for everything.
Look in the large side of the make-up mirror. Take it outside in summer. Look down.
Ask what went wrong.
Cringe when I hear myself singing out loud.
Lie to myself.
Fall off the sidewalk.
Explain to perfect strangers why I could have done x but didn’t do x though I knew
in my heart of hearts that if push came to shove I would have done x.
Put clichés into a poem.
Use more than one exclamation mark per decade!
Stick my hand into a bucket of live crabs.
Listen to someone who is absolutely sure women who get raped must have “asked for it.”
Believe it can’t happen to me. Or someone I love.
Stand on a six-foot ladder and wave a live chain saw at the highest branch of a mesquite tree.
Answer the question: What were you thinking?
Refuse to quit smoking.
Think my body will go on forever.
Say my vote doesn’t count, that it doesn’t matter, that no one cares, that nothing changes.
Say I can’t. Say it’s not my fault.
Say I’m not like them.




Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of three collections of poetry: Rules of Hunger, northSight and High Notes—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. She has published in numerous anthologies, including Villanelles (Pocket Poets Series) and Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity. Further, her work has been featured in in numerous literary journals including, Spillway, The Transnational, Windhover, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Bellingham Review, Water~Stone, and many others.

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