Back to Issue Twenty.

what instruments to measure



You meant “mercury” not “mercy.”
I misread. I do that.
Waiting for the aquarium gurgle
of circulating heat.

I’m headstrong over heels.
Mercury confuses my spectral
lines, hums ultraviolet,
then the fluorescent light kicks

awake. “Fetish” not
“fish.” Oh. I misheard.
You ask for a sorcerer,
and I spat up a salmon.

It’s wild. Should be low
contamination. When I
roll up my sleeves:
just sleeves. I’m chopping

fishheads in heels. I’m heaping
the plates, and you require a show,
so I’m heaving like yet another
serious low pressure zone.

Call me the girl offstage about
to be sawn in half. Sequined, no.
Scaly and pink. It’s a joke, that old
classic sitcom crash. And won’t

the neighbors laugh, darling. You
ask for a catalyst. I’m that thing
you play noxious. I can’t melt
any faster.


heather hughes hangs her heart in her native Miami and her current town of Somerville. Her poems recently appear or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Gulf Coast, and Vinyl Poetry, among others, and she is a Pushcart Prize nominee. heather is also a letterpress printer, a writer for Mass Poetry online, and an editorial associate for Scoundrel Time. She MFA-ed at Lesley University and ALM-ed at Harvard University Extension School. All her tattoos have wings. Find her online at

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