Poems by Arvilla Fee

Pic by Steve Johnson




I’m sorry, the life you have dialed
is unavailable. Please hang up
and try your call again later.

I sigh and go back to laundry,
dirty diapers, a toddler clinging
to my leg for a third snack.

I call again—Wait! Listen! I say
to the recording. I need a beach,
a few good books, sunshine

and seagulls. I’m not asking
for much, just a couple of weeks
—or six, food and drinks included.

I’m sorry, the life you have dialed
is unavailable. Please hang up…
I press end and sink into a chair.


Lake Erie in Ashtabula

Tan sand stretches for miles,
water and sky bump hips
like best friends.
There’s a languid peace,
the unhurried search for beach glass,
rocks tumbling ashore like jewels
spilled from a vintage pawn shop.
There’s space to spread your arms,
turn, turn, turn;
lose yourself in beautiful simplicity;
wrap yourself in fizzy Zen
as the last rays of sun blush a pink farewell.



cutting edges,
a thousand blades,
concaving the heart,
hollowing the stomach;
it’s a ball
without beginning
without end,
a circular pain
that stems
from a single moment
in time,
one that cannot be undone
no matter how much pain
is spent on the wishing.


Aging: Not for the Faint of Heart

Weighted down
by rocks of worry,
frown lines creasing
my tissue-thin skin,
feet scuffing
the pavement;
carry on, they say
chin up, they say,
but they don’t see
a frame that’s cracking,
eaten by moths of time
turning to dust
beneath an ancient sun.


Porch Summers

skin sticky with sweat,
tasting of salt,
fireflies winking, blinking
in the gathering dusk,
me on my cot,
another animal in the night,
lying on Gram’s front porch,
listening to the distance tune
of Bennie and the Jets,
and the racoons rummaging
through the trash
for the freshest scraps,
eyes opening, closing
my head growing heavy
beneath a moon
bitten in two
by the mice.



So many bodies.
Bodies stink;
bodies move.
I don’t want
to be a body
in this body,
the education
If I could,
I would fold myself
into a paper crane
and fly across
the campus,
free of lockers
and sweaty arms
bumping into mine,
free from the clamor
that jackhammers my brain,
free from the teachers
who look to me for answers
when I have none.
I cross my thin arms
over my chest,
hold my books
like a breastplate;
I shrink into seats,
making myself
as small as possible.
But I’m not small enough.
I don’t have enough folds;
no one gave me wings.


I Heard a Fly Buzz

Like nails on a chalkboard
or the sound a fork makes
scraping a plate—
a fly buzzes
against the windowpane,
an incessant grating
against the fibers
of my nerves;
I move in,
and we begin
a circular dance
of irregular movements,
fits and starts,
dashes, dodges,
elbows akimbo—
and the fly stays
just out of reach.
He seems to know
his days, his minutes,
are numbered,
that he will no longer
waggle his wings
or track dots of poop
across my ham on rye;
he stills,
and I wonder if he sees
a thousand of me
just before the perfected
snap of a dish towel
ends his insipid life.


About the Author


Arvilla Fee teaches English Composition for Clark State College and is the poetry editor for the San Antonio Review. She has published poetry, photography, and short stories in numerous presses, and her poetry book, The Human Side, is available on Amazon. For Arvilla, writing produces the greatest joy when it connects us to each other.