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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Who Goes First?; Scrolling; When She Looked Over the Expanse

By: Trapper Markelz

Who Goes First?

The friend says: I am here for you.

I need nothing but your eyes.

I will remove the cherry pits

just for you. I will leave you

full of sugar and stories.

The friend says nothing

as you both listen to the wind—

to the creak of your camp chairs,

the hiss of fiery coal deep in the flame.

We are a person to turn to, for leaning,

eye drying, an eventual rending,

a question of who goes first

into the end game. The friend says,

I will miss you when you’re gone,

I will take care of your many others,

put away your shoes,

clean away the cluttered spaces.

I will put your things back

just the way I found them—

the way you found me.


I need a break to get me near the line.

The vaults are completely empty. So much

doing and waiting, and it might all be

for nothing. I watched a sci-fi movie

in the evening, poured myself another

drink, fell asleep after realizing

it was time to sleep, picked popcorn kernels

out of the carpet, watched a stranger die

of stage four colon cancer on Twitter.

She wasn’t even 40 years old. So

few are lucky enough to last the length

of the incubi on the nightly news.

It is so far down from every ledge.

This goddamn world.

When She Looked Over the Expanse

There is a woman in the car behind,

brown bob, red blouse, a buttoned jacket,

her hands flexing the reins of a leather wheel

and at each stoplight, her face contorts

into a curdling spray of scream

like a wave washing over broken rocks,

foaming anguish I see in my rearview.

What is she carrying this day?

What burden is she unable to put down,

her only option to cast it out as unbridled rage

into the dying travel of a day? It is remarkable

the hidden pain in the person beside you.

We pass by so many and yet their pandemic

of anger is not contagious. It floats, invisible,

like breath and somatic signals. There is a heat

but we cannot feel it. A sound but we will not hear it.

Our own sounds that we fear to release,

swallowed and put deep, to forge and stew.


Trapper Markelz (he/him) is a husband, father of four, poet, musician, and cyclist, who writes from Boston, Massachusetts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals Baltimore Review, Stillwater Review, Greensboro Review, Passengers Journal, Prometheus Dreaming, Dillydoun Review, and others. You can learn more about him at

"Who Goes First - When you lose a close friend, there are so many things left unsaid. I imagined this poem as a conversation between myself and the friend in the days after the loss and all the small ways one can pledge to help while grieving.

Scrolling - Sometimes the universe just isn't fair. This poem struggles with the mundane aspects of life juxtaposed with those that are not experiencing the mundane at all. In every moment someone is losing, someone is winning, and someone is bored. Social media makes this all too apparent as we scroll past ads right next to celebrations of life and terrible tragedies. It's all jumbled into a tapestry of living.

When She Looked Over the Expanse - Before starting to work from home, I spent a great deal of time commuting in traffic back and forth to the city of Boston. We all forget that other people can see us while we are in our cars. People sing, eat, put on makeup, scream at their kids, or, in the case of this poem, scream at themselves. The image of a woman losing her mind in the car behind me one evening on my way home in traffic serves as a reminder that, even on my worst days, it isn't as bad as the trauma she faced that day... or maybe someday it will be, and I will be in partnership with all that I've seen."


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