Poetry: Selections from Juliet Cook

A Moldy Bathtub is a Sin and You Must Repent Forever, Because She Said So

When your New Year begins
with having another person's judgments rained down upon you,
as if attempting to shrink you
closer to her
by insinuating
that your own style is unclean,
dirty, every room in your house filled with unacceptable
mold. The mold takes precedence
over your poetry. The mold must be focused upon
more than your poetry. Your poetry is of very little importance
compared with the mold in your bathtub, soon to grow
into every room in your home, soon to make
everything that emerges from your mouth
a mold-drenched sign of slimy disrespect.

The clothes on your bed are unclean,
whether or not you washed them.
More mold is hiding underneath your pillowcase

and inside your underwear
until you do what she tells you to do.

The refrigerator in your kitchen is brimming with mold
pretending to be yogurt. Your coffee pot is another mold
receptacle because you are a worthless shit bag.

Your dirty eyes are dripping mold spores.
Your mouth has always been dirty ever since you became your own

adult and tried to speak for yourself, you disgusting mold-whore.

At least when you were a little kid, you organized everything in boxes,

according to her, but now your own

exponential mold is out of control,
obliterating every room in your house

and every part of your body

and it must be contained by her.

The dirty germs growing under your bed will give you a UTI.
Your cruddy lip ring is hissing mold down your unclean throat.
Since you don't believe in heaven or hell, you will burn in mold.


Every cluttered piece of paper on your floor is another invitation
for a mold infestation aiming towards a hellfire
sizzling and spewing more grime-laden pits of mold
into your eyes, ears, nose, fucked up mouth
and filthy vagina.


You're too old for this

control freak mold lurking up your socks.

You are being held down until you drown
in this toxic bubble bath of never ending festering mold

that doesn't really exist.

Flushing Me Down the Toilet


The mold specialist sneaks inside
my home and inspects my toilets.

She wants me to mold myself
into her tiny bed or underneath her.

In her mind, there's not enough space
unless everything gets tossed into one box
and shoved inside one closet.

She wants to replace my poetry
with baby diapers to cover up most of the shit

that spews out of my dirty words.


The stuff that is not associated with food
preparation shouldn't be on a counter,
meat should not be rare, words should not be bloody,

everything should be well done.

The stuff that might interfere with a vacuum cleaner

shouldn't be on my floor. I shouldn't be on my own

floor either unless I'm about to have a seizure,

in which case I should quickly crawl under the bed

to hide my ugly jerks and moans and drools.

Nobody else should be in my bed
unless she approves of their fingers or cuts them off
or can speak for them


after scraping the dust and debris
out of their unclean mouths.
I can't drive, so nobody else 's car should be in my garage.

Vacuuming Cats

You think since you shove your clutter inside

the closet instead of leaving it out in the open
that makes you someone who has a right

to invade and start an intervention
about someone else's space.

I think your specialty lies

inside standardization and trying to be in control
of others in order to avoid the way you feel
out of control about yourself. Death

cannot be avoided by obsessive vacuuming.
How is your life improved by telling other people

what to do? How is your life improved by judging
others' cluttered rooms while ignoring your own?

You like to dust another adult's brain
like you're pitching kitty litter.

See What Happens Next

You imagine your better half attached to a conveyer belt.

One hand replaced with a stuffed pig foot.


When you were a little girl, your Mom screamed at you

after you confided that you had seen one red jelly bean

on the floor in the store and ate it. She said you could

have been poisoned. You should have been better

than a stuffed pig. She might cut off one of your fingers,
toss it into the stew pot and set it on boil.

On your family's way out of the grocery store,
a little boy couldn't move, started screaming

because he had rammed his hand inside

a gumball machine slot. His Mom screamed at him,

then cut off his hand. All you could hear was screaming,

ambulance sirens coming closer, and your Mom

saying, "SEE? SEE?" as she stared at you and your

trembling fingers, dared you to stick one of those fingers

inside the gumball machine next to the screaming,

bleeding boy with no hand and see what happens next.

Broken Brain Capsules

In my foggy memory, everything turns blue
until it disintegrates.
The disintegrating parts swerve into
a tiny room with a locked door.

I don't remember why I am hiding
under the bed, but my mind feels cracked in half.
My fingertips look fearsome,
as though they are not my own.

This room is the shape and sound
of an old music box. Am I a broken doll?
My head keeps swerving around in circles,
the same song playing again and again

until it starts to hiss into impending oblivion

after being thrown against wall after wall,

in repeated attempts to get rid of my real voice.
Again and again, I say no.

My real voice wants to live,

no matter how many times I repeat myself,

no matter how many times nobody else seems to hear me.

Fifty Ice Crystals Melting Away

Red cloud formations cover your body,

wait for you to become

a new animal.

When the animals die young,

they last longer

in memory-land.


When you die old, they will put up a photo

of you when you were young,

as though your recent years were nothing.

Not nearly as exciting as your youth,

at least not physically.


When you were a teenage nightmare,

you started to dream of dying

before you reached that violent gurgling

middle stream of ongoing irrelevance.
Before you sank down to the bottom

and drowned while you were still alive.

Before your external glitter was overtaken by lines

and wrinkles. Even though some of your lines

are better than they used to be, it seems

as if nobody can see you anymore.

Evaporating kittens scratch out your words.


Those hissing then evaporating kittens
rate your own invisibility quotient
as the red scratches quickly disappear.
Sometimes it's still hard to tell
if you're sizzling or freezing.

Juliet Cook's poetry has appeared in lots of print and online publications. She is the author of quite a few poetry chapbooks, recently including Another Set of Ripped-Out Bloody Pigtails (The Poet's Haven, 2019), The Rabbits with Red Eyes (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2020) and Histrionics Inside my Interior City (part of Ghost City Press's 2020 Summer Micro-Chapbook Series). Her most recent full-length poetry book, Malformed Confetti was published by Crisis Chronicles Press in 2018. She is brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions.