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A.C. Dobell

The New Colossus

after Emma Lazarus

If you cut something open, you see

what it lives on. Subsisting perhaps on krill

and stray microplastics.

If you learn what it lives on, then you know

how to catch it. Chop that up

for chum. Or you hang dead animals,

while the river waits below, thirsty

til flies spawn and finally,

falling maggots bring the fish.

Imagine the cornucopia, splashing

maggots as a sign of good fortune

and the feast to come!

Now cut open a person, and you see dreams—

I’m sure— a belly full of dreams.

So if you wanted people you could

chop up the dreams, chop them for chum.

Or you could dangle something, Lady Liberty

perhaps. Prematurely break the shackles

of her feet, and let that New Colossus fade to blue

beyond the horizon. I am sure that dreams

would pop out, writhing little dreams,

and people would flock by the boatload

racing desperately to the sound of that splashing

promise of dreams, but only to—

But then again who would do such a thing,

and what would happen if we cut them open?

Would we see a soul, a belly full of souls?


Trying to Hide the Depression from My Mother

During the pandemic, I moved in and tried

to hide the neglected zoo of a thing

in her one-bedroom apartment.

Blackfish was shoved behind the curtain

of a tub. I couldn’t blame her for missing it.

I couldn’t turn my body inside out.

After long days, she would walk by

the flamingo pond in the sink and occasionally ask

about the colors. Shrimp now in a blue-white sludge

made the flamingos gray when the dishes hadn’t budged.

But nobody is ready to call it zoochosis,

and nobody will tap on the glass.

When the gorilla looked like it was sleeping,

she let it sleep. But it was hard to mask

her disappointment when the hippo’s eyes barely

emerged, and she heard no singing from exotic birds.

She asked herself about diurnal or nocturnal.

She asked herself about natural environments.

But is it a mother’s job to throw fish

in the air in the hopes for claps?


A.C. Dobell is a Filipina-American author and visual artist. She is a student and mentee of the Madwomen in the Attic writing program at Carlow University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Hawaii Pacific Review, Voices from the Attic, Eunoia, Rising Phoenix, and Mercado Vicente. She is a director of Mused, a collaborative exhibition for artists of varying mediums.

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