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a word for the day

a word for the day
By Elizabeth R. McClellan

after @notaleptic

Dream self spends the night;
birds sing across the roofs—

the dawn chorus filtered through
sleep. The dream self drinks coffee

and the smell diffuses. On waking
half the cigarettes will be smoked

stained with purple glitter lipstick
and sleep-sand. The dream self

doesn't understand pockets that don't
fill themselves. Their economies

are kisses and forgotten hallways,
songbirds and flotsam of days gone,

and they leave dirty cups, overflowing
ashtrays, a warm impression in the sheet

and some kind of revelation, like a
hostess gift: that's why you resent

your mother, they whisper, or you get
so upset you self sabotage.

breathe deeper. If the dream self had
social media they would be insufferable,

except they're always right. Wisdom
bought in the old way, an offering and

something small lost for great gains,
the Oracle, propitiated, inhales and speaks.

* * *

Elizabeth R. McClellan is a disabled gender/queer demisexual poet writing on unceded Quapaw and Chikashsha Yaki (Chickasaw) land. Their work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Star*Line, Dreams and Nightmares, Apex Magazine and Utopia Science Fiction as well as many others. They are a Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors Award winner and past Rhysling Award nominee. In their other life, they are a domestic and sexual violence attorney. Follow them on Twitter @popelizbet or at

Where do you get the ideas for your poems?

Everywhere from the margins of mythology to the musings of Twitter bots. 'a word for the day' is a collaboration between myself and @notaleptic, a crude Twitter AI who occasionally produces amazing first lines. Whether I'm tearing apart shreds of old stories to quilt something fresh or spinning new ones from an inspiring Tweet, I'm always looking for the poetry in the world.