This poem by Michael Puican is one of the finalists of the Furious Gazelle’s Halloween contest. The contest’s winner will be announced Friday. View the rest of the finalists here.


Tonight we can be anyone we want:

a woman says she’s entropy

but nobody gets it; a lobster

pulls a card from the deck with his claw.

It matches the one in my hand. Outside,

a werewolf screams into a pay phone

then deposits more coins. A while ago,

a passive aggressive divorced a narcissist

with manic tendencies. Their daughter

showed signs of regression so the court

assigned her a lawyer. There are tests

designed to unmask one’s maladjustments,

personality bents, significant elevations

on the not-in-the-child’s-best-interest scale.

The court-ordered psychologist told me

denial would not be tolerated

in his sessions. I looked back at him, listening

to the air conditioner kick on, then off.

I wish it were five years from now.

Then it is. I see my daughter and ex-wife

like binary stars, bright, cheerful

and a billion miles away. In the lobby

an alien samples the quiche, he talks

about the building’s footprint. A cool

breeze from the open window stops me—

the sweet scent of fallen leaves and rain.

It is a difficult joy that rises out of grief.

A crow caws along with the music, then stops.

In another room a woman pulls off

her goat’s head, a man tears up his face.

Michael Puican has had poetry published in Poetry, New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, TriQuarterly, and Courtland Review, among others. He writes poetry reviews for TriQuarterly, Kenyon Review, and Another Chicago Magazine, among others.  His chapbook, 30 Seconds, was selected as winner of the 2004 Tia Chucha Chapbook Contest. He was a member of the 1996 Chicago Slam team and is current board president of the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago.