2 Poems by Neil Carpathios


Sometimes I go to where giant seashells hold humans to their ears. Where there are bars you can order passion, make it a double, and they serve a tall glass of all the feeling squeezed out of every time you’ve been in love or in lust, or will be. Where you can flip people like pancakes until they’re just the way you like. Where all the guns shoot kisses. I usually go during late Friday afternoon department meeting discussions of new by-laws and brain-numbing debate over course descriptions. I strap on an oxygen tank and dive into the ocean that suddenly appears. Down and down until I reach that place nobody knows or can touch. I surface, step onto the beach and take off my gear. Beautiful naked women towel me off. A mariachi band starts to play. It begins raining margaritas but we all have cocktail umbrellas. Someone asks where I’m from. I say the land of department meetings. They think that’s exotic, want to know all about it. I tell them. They yawn, try to appear interested. Usually, about then, a giant seashell picks me up and listens to my ear.

Zero Calories

The little yellow packet of fake sugar says it’s just like real sugar only better. It doesn’t use the word fake but substitute. Which makes me remember my brief stint as a substitute teacher. I was not their real teacher but I did somehow believe I might be better. Once a kid who wouldn’t shut up—I had to send to the principal—called me a fake. So I can relate to you, little yellow packet of granulated white erythritol, leaf extract and chemicals claiming to be natural. I choose you, sweetener, that doesn’t use the word artificial but synthetically viable. You have a right to be here, you do important work, like my friends the adjunct instructors who deserve more respect. I know because I was one once. I put you in my coffee. You are sweet. I refuse to believe you are cancer-producing like some people claim. And I admire how carefully you choose your words.


Neil Carpathios is the author of five full-length poetry collections, most recently Confessions of a Captured Angel (Terrapin Books, 2016) and Far Out Factoids (FutureCycle Press, 2017). He teaches at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Photo by Julian Dufort on Unsplash

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