ORIENTATION
melanie hubbard

You may pick up your hair shirt at check-in.
Laundry will be collected once a year.
May we suggest you save your nail clippings,

as they make a fine ash for our soap.
What is “normal” is a common
question here. Deviate at your peril.

It is possible to spend the day untangling
strands, and we encourage this. Meditation, obsession.
Obsession, compulsion. Compulsion, perfection.

These are the ladders to Heaven.
To be free is an equation.
At this rate, they’ll be done in two hundred years.

They take an awful lot of cigarette breaks.
We keep them in the basement, where it’s relatively cool.
We have everything in canisters labeled

by predominant element. Molybdenum is my favorite.
Atrium is not an element. Neither is vacuum.
A vacuum is a tamed black hole. We have three. Don’t open them.

You can get materials, but not help.
Help will be deducted from your debit account,
which is empty. We suggest you begin with the black keys.

 

Melanie Hubbard’s chapbook, Gilbi Winco Swags, is available from Cannibal Books. Her first book manuscript, Dressed Like a Kwaker, was a finalist for Fence’s Motherwell Prize this year, and currently seeks a publisher. Her poems appear in the debut issue of the new online poetry journal StrangeMachine. She has not yet figured out how to make a living, but thinks becoming a writer sounds very promising.