Back to Issue Twenty.

what instruments to measure


You meant “mercury” not “mercy.”
I misread. I do that.
Waiting for the aquarium gurgle
of circulating heat.

I’m headstrong over heels.
Mercury confuses my spectral
lines, hums ultraviolet,
then the fluorescent light kicks

awake. “Fetish” not
“fish.” Oh. I misheard.
You ask for a sorcerer,
and I spat up a salmon.

It’s wild. Should be low
contamination. When I
roll up my sleeves:
just sleeves. I’m chopping

fishheads in heels. I’m heaping
the plates, and you require a show,
so I’m heaving like yet another
serious low pressure zone.

Call me the girl offstage about
to be sawn in half. Sequined, no.
Scaly and pink. It’s a joke, that old
classic sitcom crash. And won’t

the neighbors laugh, darling. You
ask for a catalyst. I’m that thing
you play noxious. I can’t melt
any faster.



Hughes 20

heather hughes hangs her heart in her native Miami and her current town of Somerville. Her poems recently appear or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Gulf Coast, and Vinyl Poetry, among others, and she is a Pushcart Prize nominee. heather is also a letterpress printer, a writer for Mass Poetry online, and an editorial associate for Scoundrel Time. She MFA-ed at Lesley University and ALM-ed at Harvard University Extension School. All her tattoos have wings. Find her online at

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