This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2009

Two poems by Kathryn Mockler

Kathryn MocklerWebsite


Yesterday I borrowed my sister’s make up mirror to get at an eyelash. As I pulled the mirror away from my face, I noticed something strange.

“Am I cross-eyed?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said.

“Since when?” I asked. “Is this a recent occurrence?”

“Since forever. Since I’ve known you,” she said.

“But nobody told me.”

“Nobody wanted to tell you because they were afraid it would hurt your feelings.”

“You mean I’ve been walking around cross-eyed all this time?”

“Yes,” she said.

“That would account for all the strange looks and nobody wanting to be my friend.”

“It would,” she said.

“You told me it was because I had a bad personality.”

“You do,” she said. “And you’re cross-eyed.”


I walked into the garage
and found a teenage boy in a
tank top and shorts
sweating profusely
as he lifted weights.
He had skinny arms,
but his muscles were really
coming along.

I asked him what he was doing
and he said, My name is Alex.
My mother has a perm.
And she works as a nurse
at the mental institution on the hill.
The one that used to be surrounded
by farmland before
all that land was bought up
to make room for the mall.
It’s the same mental
institution where they keep
all the retards
for experimentation purposes.
Once I asked her
if she had part of her brain taken out
because sometimes
my mother is so stupid
I could kill her.
She said she’s seen people
take out the brains on retards.
It’s a fun operation to watch
if you can stomach it,
if you’ve got guts
and have what it takes to be a man.

My stepfather says that a real man
knows how to please a woman.
And I know he knows because
I walked in on him
when he was fingering
my mother.

Yes, I said,
that’s all very interesting,
but what does it have to do with why
you are in my garage?

I’m in here, Alex said,
because our garage
is being renovated.

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