in a Publix on Christmas Eve



is my personal hell


& I’m sure everyone else’s—


a mutually assured chaos


of bell peppers, tomatoes, no jalapeños


so we’ll have to tramp to Food Lion too


I guzzled two Miller Lites


& one vape before the motion door


instantly bombarded by people


with a Xeroxed look on their face—


clutching pen scribbled grocery lists


for their dear lives


& they’re out of chives


I am a chaos scribble until my sister orders


I find the green onions & red bell peppers


so I dash around the fresh foods section


chanting the colors in my head like a prayer


& I go back yet again for the havarti


somehow I keep coming back to the same place


I am the havarti




1 mild & creamy with a delicate buttery tang


soft in my hands like a baby


in light red & purple packaging


I am the shih tzu in a stroller by the ham


I am the man in a cat Christmas suit jacket & hair net,


stuffing frozen turkey into the middle fridge


I don’t know who I am


without something to do


when the world goes cold & silent

JoAnna Brooker is a graduate from the University of Tennessee, where she studied Journalism & English. She is currently a staff director for Sundress Academy for the Arts, & her work has been featured in Jet Fuel Review, HASH Journal, & Menacing Hedge. She can be found on all social media platforms @cupofjoanna, & in her spare time enjoys petting cats & making cheese based meals for her loved ones.