The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Elizabeth J. Colen’s “The Green Condition”


Selection from “The Green Condition”

We listen for birdsound. We hear trains. On another house two doors up pigeons gather. The roof is speckled white.

The houses are all so close here and usually the shades are drawn.

I listen hard, but can only hear the pigeon coos if everything else is quiet.


Grandchildren of Numitor, sons of the god of war.


As with everywhere, there are also crows. Who make a racket. Who drop sandwich wrappers and oyster shells on top of my car.

There is also the higher-pitched tittering sound I hadn’t recognized at first is not a bird at all.

Fur birds, maybe, my neighbor, Caroline says.

What is that? I ask.

When they’re agitated they sound like that, the raccoons.

She tells me one has been living on the back of our block for over a year. She doesn’t know where the nest is. I speculate about the tall tree between our yards.

Our back yards border. She runs a daycare. The children are taught to “make big” if they see it, and come right back inside.

This selection is from Elizabeth J. Colen’s full-length book, The Green Condition, available from Ricochet Editions. Purchase your copy here!.

Elizabeth J. Colen has lived in three dozen different houses in seven different states. She is the author of poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Steel Toe Books, 2010; finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies (Jaded Ibis Press, 2012), as well as flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake (Rose Metal Press, 2011), and the hybrid long poem / lyric essay The Green Condition (Ricochet Editions, 2014).

Mary Stone Dockery is the author of One Last Cigarette, a poetry collection, and the chapbooks Blink Finch and The Dopamine Letters. Her poetry and prose has appeared inStirring: A Literary CollectionGutter EloquenceArts & LettersRedactions, and others. She earned her MFA from the University of Kansas in 2012. Currently, she lives and writes in St. Joseph, MO, where she teaches English at Missouri Western State University and coordinates the First Thursdays Open Mic at Norty’s Bar and Grill.


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