Three Poems – Rachael Lin Wheeler

What you Do in Dreams

There is a city lost
in black and white abandonment with
clouds like curtains
so heaven couldn’t see us and
shake its head in
thoughtful resentment at the
cracked beer bottle the
cat knocked over, because
now the floor of that old
warehouse is stained
with apathy and reeks
almost as much as the loaded looks you
get from the family you
left behind because you were
bored and looking for adventures that
would look good on the kind of postcard
people smile at and forget in
the bottom of their coat pockets
so it gets torn in the wash, but
instead you’re waiting here,
desperate for words
and for life
and for anything more than
this current slice of hell where you’re
burning from the cold of sitting
cross-legged on the pavement,
alone,
promising yourself that today
is the day you will learn to fly, and that
you’ll defy the odds, just
to prevent yourself from falling;
live and learn and get concussed by
the memories beating
what were supposed to be
sleeping hours

Before the Self-Portrait

An American Family Reaches for Odes

The flag of this home—
this flag which
we cannot burn—
is not at half mast

       but it is tearing
       at the seams of
       these tearing faces
       filled with wool.

It is in the way a
father has become
an alley you have
seen but never felt.

       It is in the way a
       mother’s words only  
       emerge from the dried
       lake, just to unbecome.

A brother grips the slick
barrel of a gun without
telling the other boy that he
loves him in silent tongues.

       A sister is slowly silenced
       by the shadows behind
       bedroom mirrors made
       of pointed fingers.

They tried to leave no sign
of themselves in those broken
breaths and watching eyes
of hopeful children.

       And you are left there,
       thinking, thank you &
       thank you & thank you &
       tha—

Rachael Lin Wheeler is currently a student attending Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. Her poetry, prose, and photography have been recognized by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is also the founder and editor of Vox Viola Literary Magazine, an intersectional feminist online publication, which can be found at https://voxviola.com.