A Telephone and A Tommy Gun




Skipping across the cover of a card sent

to the hospital where you're getting diagnosed. 

It’s supposed to be funny. Your laugh 

is a running cockroach.


The only thing you choke down everyday during

and after dye testing. A colonoscopy. X-rays.

Sleeping Beauty. No cure. Concern.

At least it’s not cancer.

You will always remember who said that. 

Her rejoicing. Jealous hums. 

Made invalid by emotional invalids. 

The way people look at you 

when you say Crohn's; you start saying—

Chronic—not -cles of Narnia. Not Mary Jane. 

Auto-immune. Inflammation from mouth to anus. 

Listening to everyone talk over you 

as you explain. Heart palpitations. Low potassium.

Kiwis you inform. Kiwis have more.

No one hears. Everyone wants to insist 

on something to help. A bother. Another test.

On bedrest and in your pregnant hair.

Giving birth to silk skin,

yellow three months in after vaccines.

A vague connect-a-dot. You forgot. Used pen.

Jaundice is a symptom.


Being obedient is a condition.

You know four shots is bananas


What they call your questions.

Discreet and fervorous breastfeeding.

A feeling as if it's your fault;

you're the least common denominator.

X-factor. Fraction. 


You know you don't have Hepatitis B.

You know, no—will get you eye rolls.


The first solid food he eats, messy 

petal fingers playing in pale mush. 

His breath. 


At home going bad in the too humid air,

becoming an idea for bread

that you’ll never execute. You tried. 

Too tired. 


The way you feel your decline as months

peel, as you bruise easier and slink 

toward the kitchen floor. Think.


What you call your mother-in-law. 

What she calls you. A catch-22. A telephone

and a tommy gun. She’s an expert level

gaslighter. Triangulator. 



No one believes you. No one believes in you

You drink the quiet fire. Ostracized. 

Strange. Satisfied. 


Always moody like an Andy Warhol painting.

Wanting to be less abstract. More distracted.

Less stretch and brown lines.

God's discarded art


See everyone passing as you become a slug. Hang on

for long days and short years. After each

emergency room stay. 

After everyone forgets you had a baby.

Kaci Skiles Laws is a closet cat-lady and creative writer who reads and writes voraciously in the quiet moments between motherhood and managing Crohn's Disease. She grew up on a small farm in a Texas town alongside many furry friends, two sisters, and a brother. She has known tragic loss too well, and her writing, which is often dark and honest, is a reflection of the shadows lurking in her psyche. Her work can be viewed at kaciskileslawswriter.wordpress.com.