Three Poems by Karen Craigo

I Count Them When I’m Lonely

“Oh, I was just mentally counting my doorknobs.”
—Aunt Clara,
Bewitched, Season 1, Episode 7


I have over three thousand, you know—
brass and crystal, palm-sized, designed
to turn. You can always hear me coming.
The thunk and chime that sounds like
a bag of doorknobs is a bag of doorknobs,
and what clatters like a witch appearing,
sudden, in the broom closet is, too,
exactly that. More than once I’ve drawn
from my heart the wrong words—turned
your husband to a chimp, conjured
an ostrich in your parlor. I meant well.

It’s terrible to get old. I used to slice
through walls like butter. Now I slam
like a mortal, doorknobs and witch flying
in all directions. Just before season five,
the day will come: I’ll disappear, and no one
will speak my name, out of love or continuity,
who can tell? You can take in your hand
what I leave you—pocket revolutions,
each a way to get you from here to there.


On the Nature of Incantations

Darrin: Al, my wife is a witch.
Bartender: Cheer up. You should see my wife.


Cut me a little slack. She broke it to me
on our wedding night, and if I’d hoped
for something peculiar, it wasn’t that.
Hers was an old magic—there were times
the whole house smelled of porpoise milk,
burnt ostrich feather, charred bat-wing
from her pot. And there were gestures
and incantations, rather obvious rhymes.
But my powers were modern, and greater,
McMann & Tate a leader in the world.
With a slogan, I could fill you with need,
a sudden excruciating lust for soup.
If you forgot every other thing, you’d have
my words, rumbling in the hippocampus.
Just for a moment, picture us together—
Samantha incandescent, and then me,
silhouette of a scarecrow in the moon.
That tells you something about magic.
Consider Kingsley Potato Chips, “Your chip
just came in.” I wrote that and it’s true.



Samantha Responds

You’re quick to judge.
Baby on your nipple
or toddler on your side—
I’m not the only one
to have given up
her powers. No magic
could touch the skin
of your shoulder lit
by the gibbous moon
as you walked along
the avenue, nothing
to pull you back home.
Like me, you wanted
the hearth. Weak side,
Achilles, underbelly—
you wanted to angle
into his hollows, fill
a void that only you
could see. Weren’t
there nights you’d twitch
or flourish if it meant
you didn’t have to sleep
cold? I won’t call it
a weakness, declare
you a bad example.
Sometimes we deny
one nature to embrace
another. Sometimes
we turn the paddle
in our own cauldron
and we know just what
to reach for, eye of this
or heart of that—place
trust in what we brew.

Karen Craigo teaches English in Springfield, Missouri. A poet and essayist, she is the author of a forthcoming collection, No More Milk (Sundress Publications, 2016), as well as two chapbooks, most recently Someone Could Build Something Here (Winged City, 2013). She is the nonfiction editor of Mid-American Review.