"the daughter," "I HAVE ONE SMALL GLASS AND A LIMITED REGISTER," and "are you afraid of the dark, girls?"

the daughter

after the Philando Castile shooting on 7/7/16

It was spooky—the dead speaking to us that way, as if nothing stops, ever. Every world continues,
every voice. It's just happenstance, or luck, that we hear it.
                                                                                                 –Marianne Boruch


It’s okay, mommy. I’m right here with you,
I say, but I’m not there anymore. I’ve grown
My fingernails long enough to scratch and

Pick at every hair in my head. you say
He’s dead. he died inside the car with you
And I—didn’t hear him moving around the

Apartment last night—don’t own a gun.
You say he was a good man. he wouldn’t like
My pulling out my eyelash, eyebrow, arm hair

Now. now, mommy, it’s okay. I know you
Remember me with hair—braids with colored,
Plastic balls settled at the top of a nest of black—

Waves of lotioned hair, with a braid undone,
And a hair tie loosed so, like everything else
That comes after this disease. they say

It is compulsive, signaling unease, but I
Can’t seem to get to its root. it’s a habit to pull
Past pain, to remove something from me.

It’s okay, mommy. I’m right here with you. they
Tell me it is reversible—something that can be treated
Like wood—which can keep a structure beautiful

For years. when building something to stand
For a while—the body of a man, for instance—
To stand without talking back, as some have

Unfortunately—it is best to use pressure.
According to the pamphlet on my kitchen
Counter, the walls are not crawling with insects.

It says our building is treated by people
I can’t seem to name, but I know
I heard him, mommy. I hear him. do you?




I keep a word bank in reserve to answer people when I am not listening. The problem is that I am always listening. I never break into the reserve. Whether this is really a problem, I am not certain. I am certain there is a problem with my reserve. I break into it sometimes just to check in. To make sure everything is still there, I open it up. I think that I am opening. One cannot be certain.



are you afraid of the dark, girls?

after Tonya M. Foster


remember being
            told that somehow
you’re (b)lack on the outside

and white
            on the inside.

what that means.
            maybe, talking white
is like (s)peaking

and producing
            only a (b)lank page.
maybe, my body is


my body language never
            spoke up for me.
sometimes, I’d (s)ink

in my stomach.
            the thing is

the disconnect
            between this brain
and body is real.

            I (k)now
a thief’s been here.
            stole the connection

between (y)our brain
            and bludgeoned body.

but we’re not, right?

hush. like the time
            I told them, I’m (not)
here. you can’t

hurt me.



Winner of the 2018 Iowa Review Award in poetry and the 2017 Vassar Miller Poetry Award, Shaina Monet is a New Orleans native. She also serves as a poetry editor at Bayou Magazine. Her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Unlikely Stories, Sundog Lit, and Yemassee Journal. Currently, she has poems forthcoming in The Iowa Review. Find more about her work at: shainamonet.com


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 11:49