Two Poems by Abby Caplin


Maybe I’m the keynote.
Maybe I’m security—
tossing conference-crashers
into the idling recycling basket
while colorful gel pens hold
round-table discussions
about the state of Abby’s bookshelves.

When iPhones don their sweaters
because the air conditioning won’t stop,
I say, Let’s eat; when I hear two
checkbooks in the buffet line
cracking jokes about varicose veins,
I seal their flapping mouths
with metal binder clips.

These are my colleagues:
serpentine power cords
forever tripping the experts
at the Q&A,
yawning yellow pads
ruffling through their programs,
snoozing when the lights
go down and the next scheduled
speaker, a long-winded
swivel chair, clears its throat.

But everyone, even the squeaking
vinyl window, rises to applaud
the old bathrobe as it slowly takes the podium
for its lifetime achievement award,
honoring years of witness—arguments with management,
fuzzy data, stage fright,
and long, emotional panel
discussions on the irritating,
unremitting wet-kiss
noises of ass-licking cats,
before being bagged for Goodwill.

In the back of the dark carpeted
ballroom, a laptop pauses, takes
a sip of water.



                “See, I have put before you today life and good, and death and foulness.”
                                                 Deuteronomy 30:1-15

I’m tired of talking
about what everyone else is talking about:
our planet burning, drowning
how a crazy man is in charge of the nation
and no one to ship him off
to the Isle of Elba
or whatever the equivalent is these days
a man so unlike Mr. Rogers
it gives me a headache
how he boosts himself with swagger-talk
contorts his mouth into a megaphone
talks incessantly
of blowing up the Milky Way

I’m tired of talking about firepower
and hurricane power
and the power of the NRA
how all of us can’t figure out how
to stop those guns
and talking mass extinction
or GMOs or Monsanto
gets me down, though
I hang signs in the windows of my house
still talking about it over dinner
and when I meet people
on the street walking by the way when I read
my email lying in bed
and when I rise to the sound of a CNN alert  
afraid I’ll read that belly-up pieces
of Greenland can be seen floating
off the coast of Cuba.

Abby Caplin’s poems have appeared in Alyss, apt, Burningword, Canary, Catamaran, Dunes Review, Love’s Executive Order!, McNeese, Mudlark Flash, Poetica, TSR: The Southampton Review, These Fragile Lilacs, Third Wednesday, and Tikkun, among others. She is an award recipient of San Francisco Poets Eleven 2016 and a finalist for the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. She is a physician and practices Mind-Body medicine in San Francisco. Her website is