The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: out of emptied cups by Anne Casey


a colleague of mine once observed i have a mind like a steel trap
—it may have been meant as a compliment but it didn’t
feel like that at the time

he was wrong of course it is much more like a labyrinth
expertly appointed to hold within safe confines a variety
of monsters of commonplace yet
inexplicable design spectres hermetically sealed in lightless
spaces where they pace unattended waiting
to be fed

which i do periodically subconsciously—ignoring the signs and
tripping that switch to wander into
familiar habitats here the electrifying jolt of nightclub lights
striking out of the demi-dark

there the fluorescent flicker of the too-bright doctors’ rooms or the overhead strip lights humming along with the rumble of subway tracks a twilit street or the sunny
play ground running-running from the old man coming

with his white-haired wreckage of sagging
flesh hanging from his open
fly and i am eight years old again
and i can think of
nothing else but running and in that room there
is only running an
d running and in each
other there are
the others—other things coming and then
there is the no-nono

No NO!! cell where the light is nothing but
subterranean murk the soundtrack
a thundering heartbeat above oblivion

each time determined i will try something
different but it always ends the same so i lock the do
or again praying one time the switch flicks
i will find the light
warmed to an early evening
glow where there is nothing hungry
waiting just a tattered mound of dusty rags & a scattering
of shattered twig-like things only slightly too
white—fragments crushed
between steel teeth

This selection comes from the book, out of emptied cups, available from Salmon Poetry.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Originally from the west of Ireland and living in Sydney, Australia, Anne Casey is author of two poetry collections— ‘out of emptied cups’ (Salmon Poetry 2019) and ‘where the lost things go’ (Salmon Poetry 2017). Her poetry is widely published internationally— The Irish Poetry Reading Archive (James Joyce Library, University College Dublin), The Irish Times, The Canberra Times, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Quiddity, Entropy, apt, The Murmur House, Barzakh (State University of New York), DASH (California State University), The Stony Thursday Book, FourXFour, Westerly Magazine, Cordite, Verity La and Plumwood Mountain Review among many others. A journalist, magazine editor, legal author and media communications director for 30 years, her work is widely published internationally, ranking in leading national daily newspaper, The Irish Times’ Most Read. Anne’s poetry has won/shortlisted for awards in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the USA, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 


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