Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chella Courington- Three Poems

Brief Biography: Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. She’s the author of three poetry chapbooks and three flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry and stories appear in numerous anthologies and journals including SmokeLong Quarterly, Nano Fiction, The Los Angeles Review, and The Collagist. Her recent novella, The Somewhat Sad Tale of the Pitcher and the Crow, is available at Amazon. Reared in the Appalachian South, she now lives in Santa Barbara, CA.

Lynette’s War

Cousin Lynette says she’s tired from cleaning 
East Main houses of rich bitches. They don’t even shit 
like us, got toilet seats that float to the bowl, 
never make a sound, & she hands me the baby 
over the front seat. Days off Merry Maids 
we like to drive her ’97 Trans Am to Gulf Shores—  
kd lang over eight speakers. 
I’m tired too, tired of being the babysitter. 
Leah, grabbing my earrings, covers me in crumbs. 
She bites off the heads of animal crackers. 
Only eats heads.

Don’t know why I hang with her. 
She’s like the girl who cut my hair at Cinderella’s 
saying I had the ugliest strands she’d ever seen.
I kept going back for more till Lynette blurted  
you don’t need to pay for that kind of shit. 
And Lynette says outright 
she’s sexy & I’m not. We both know it.
Junior high she called me a mutant. Boobs 
like raisins on a fifteen-year old’s wrong. 
Mama took me to the doctor & he shook his head. 

At least Lynette is a good mother.
When the kid has fever, Lynette won’t go 
to work. I’d rather lose my job 
than leave a sick baby at daycare.
Guess that’s why I hang with her. 
She might call me names, but let somebody else do it,
she’d scratch their eyes out. At the Sonic, 
some boy from Crossville leaned in the window, 
drop the fat chick & let’s go driving.  
She clawed his left cheek & screeched away, 
tray still on the car, cokes & fries flying.
Son of a bitch thinks he can dump on you and have  
a good time with me. Stupid bastard. 

I thought Lynette would always be the one to leave. 
Good looking. Smart. She never let anybody 
walk on her, or me, though she did
what Cochran girls do after getting their 
driver’s license. She got knocked up. 
Wouldn’t tell a soul who the father was. 
We all thought it was Sonny Cruz. 
He went to Iraq in August & emailed Lynette every day.
Like they were junk, she’d hit delete. 
He started writing letters she stacked on her dresser—
unopened. Keeping in touch with soldiers 
is talking to the dead. Sonny could come back, 
I say. Lots of boys make it. Lynette turns away 
he might, but he won’t be the Sonny I knew.  

After homecoming she carries his letters out to the grill. 
They catch on the third match.
Every last word. 

PBW (DVD). Ed. Richard Freeman. (December 2015)

The Pond Heron

The dead don't write
but my cousin's letter arrives three days 

after he's blown away by some kid 
in his own platoon.

Maybe another Georgia boy 
who's never been so far from home

so scared he shoots at anything
moving in shadows.

The letter feels light 
for my cousin's voice.

He speaks of sheer petals rising
out of muddy fields 

spreading before the sun. 
Of a copper heron in shallow water

who dips his black-tipped beak
to spear his prey.

King Log 7.1 (Spring 2004). 


The first thing I had of Winston Walker 
is that Saturday afternoon he shot me
in the eye. BB the size of a mockingbird
iris and about as yellow. Arm draped 
over the fence, I watched him walking
toward me. Cock. Pop. 
Wasps nested. Screams covered me.

Ice cubes froze the sting blue. Weeks later
my sight, sharp as ever. But the pasty scar tissue 
turned my head down, hid the eye behind 
cloud cover. No meteor showers 
visible.  Just an ugly white 
glob Winston Walker called an accident
no doctor could erase till I was sixteen

and had moved to Atlanta. He scraped clouds
off blue iris—ashen crater in its place.
When I raised my lid, the sky appeared.
After thirty years Winston Walker telephoned.
Honest to God, I just wanted to scare you.
Said he dreamed I shot him full 
of Adriamycin exploding under his skin

infrared starbursts burning every breathing cell.
Then, in November, I expected him at New Hope 
to be cremated, ashes scattered where he hunted 
whitetail deer. In a simple casket he 
was lowered near his mother as shadows 
passed through us.

Flying South (Poetry Chapbook). Kind of a Hurricane Press, January 2015.


  1. These poems are moving, and I like the variety. But I am particularly struck by "Lynette's War" and its life of working class women.

  2. Imaginative against manhandled state of consciousness.

  3. Claudia Hoag McGarryFebruary 21, 2016 at 4:11 PM

    I could relate to all three of Chella's poems. I love her flash fiction as well. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Author Chella Courington certainly knows how to use the weight of words to lose the stanza, the line, to create an authentic feeling of intimacy between reader and life. Such fine detail that makes me relive my Southern roots. Only someone who writes from the bone (you know where you really gnaw until you get down to the marrow) can come up with some of these lines filled with the senses and Ms. Courington is a pro. Love "...bites off animal crackers only eats heads." and the "...BB the size of a mockingbird iris and about as yellow." Absolute finest art form from The Pond Heron: ..."letter feels light for my cousin's words" and "dead don't write..." Sure hope to read some more of her work here. Thanks for introducing us to her work.