Fighting Tablets ||| Paper Darts

     1. Rabbit

Oiled silk and red eye, knows nervous twitches.

Your jaw across the table clasps me quiet. Make

a muscle, hunched over hind legs primed for flight.

Cotton blows roadside, tell tale belly fur, scared white.

You’ve dealt yourself a good hand, and your doggish

lips slack against pointed bone. But I see in wide

periphery, and my fat folds warm both neck and feet.

Angular baby, you’ll never get a firm grip on me.


     2. Star

Tonight the sky stinks of little red diamonds.

I slide them across surfaces, flippant;

stardust sticks in my fingerprints.

We sleep under a ceiling sprayed with bullets.

Do you chart holes, hope to spell out the arc of us?

A powdered donut succumbs in coffee: always, utterly.

Pastry cheeks, cupped at your center of buoyancy.

Celestial waters smooth over card sharks.

Gilled gliding, in most ways incompatible. One hook.


     3. Pheasant

Clearly he’s seen too many romantic comedies.

Scraps months (potentially) of courtship in favor

of one wild gesture. No matter that the lady in question

prefers omelets to nesting. The American way.

He throws all his savings into a last-minute ticket.

Ensuring surprise arrival, he hitches in the rain

from airport to her apartment, his tail feathers soggy

and muddled before he can lay bird breast across her doormat.

The roommate stiffens at this spectacle. The lady,

she explains, is away, on a date. She expects her home

soon, shrugs toward the sofa. What else suits a would-be

lover? Entirely pot committed, he sits and waits.


     4. Antelope

A meeting: low stakes. I choose savanna.

Grasses, lush eyelashes, woody plants.

Play your horned head across my lap.

Cloven feet can rinse in seasonal rains.

Held slick between forest and prairie,

I lighten. We ante in tender shoots.


     5. Fish

One cold-blooded

enterprise writhes in our hands, studded

with scale.


Peaches, half-rotted,

threaten to cobbler me whole.

All games involve measure, declare a winner.

Yet your collar reassures, surely

it’s never known iron. Opens to the beat.

I must admit a certain finned ferocity

gripped me as you stacked your chips. Monster

best kept under water.

Clever wind, anemic cloud cover.


A promise: in the next round I’ll gut you to the pit.


6. Man

She is older, careful with her movements. He peels

the coat from her shoulders with practiced elasticity.

Black detailing retracts into the closet like a servant’s

bow, as if wrinkles could speed her steady unraveling.

His beard curls, he must be fussing with weaponry

or else an open palm. The alternation confuses.

If only he could discover what she keeps tucked

under that finery, but the mystery matters more.

He clasps her elbow as they descend the stairs; blue

lines their faces. Women are best handled like stems

on wine glasses: gently and high in the air. Look how

she glints regal in candlelight after all these years.

Still she is a child, clutching her single flower

in the snow. That cold expression spools him back

to the first crowning, when he practiced variations

of his blank stare. No man dares to read them now.


     7. Crow

I slipped into your yard the other night with my garden

spade and dug your tomato plants out under moonlight.

They look fresh, if flaccid, in my plot. Perhaps miss

your wired support and regular jolts of fertilizer.

Yes, you like to calculate. Caution near the power lines .

Five black birds swing, callous. Like the death of a lover.

Two aces in the hole, a stranger in your bed. Risk the sky

open with dark wings. Pleasure blooms from stake.


     8. Horse

Buckled foot soldier, ease the bit in with molasses. Sweet metal.

Jack six pack, he wears the saddle. A clever knave.

We are all of us scoundrels and slaves,

reeling for the chance to ride.

Bridle that.



Meryl DePasquale is the author of the chapbook Dream of a Perfect Interface (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in numerous places, including DIAGRAM, Taurpaulin Sky Literary Journal and The Offending Adam. In collaboration with her husband, tattoo artist and illustrator Shawn Hebrank, she makes letterpress broadsides, mail art, and artist books under the name Four-Letter Press. Meryl also works as a freelance editor and writing coach. More at:

“Fighting Tablets” by Meryl DePasquale originally appeared in Paper Darts on Oct 9, 2013.