Sample Poems:


Argument in a Restaurant

We've all seen it before:
the single, sudden shout,
her stumble toward the door,
his thick arm lurching out.

Not wanting to be rude,
we look down with a smirk,
returning to our food,
forgetting love takes work.

Then one day their fate's ours.
An innocent remark
mysteriously sours.
The chintzy, lightweight fork

a weapon in our hands,
the tears come. We begin
to stammer our demands.
No use. We never win.

And though we're circumspect,
our flaws shine on display.
The waitress brings the check,
the patrons look away.

We grab our coats and walk
shame-faced through the place.
Tables resume their talk,
don't meet our bleary gaze.

Yet when we reach the car,
expecting chill or violence,
we return to what we were,
and in the common silence,

the dark, receding danger
gives way to strange relief,
the flash of public anger
stilling the private grief.


[CHELSEA RATHBURN received her M.F.A. in poetry at the University of Arkansas. She is currently working as an editor for a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia. Her poems have been published in The New Criterion, The Midwest Quarterly, Pleiades, and other journals.]

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