Wendy Rainey

Rachel Maddow looks tired tonight

Watching the news just now,
it strikes me that Rachel Maddow has dark circles
under her eyes.
Perhaps she’s worn down
by the daily onslaught of chaos
perpetuated by the leader of the free world.
I wonder if she’s thinking about walking her dog
in the woods,
the chilly morning air stinging her nostrils,
his heart racing as he chases a squirrel up a pine tree.
While we speculate in our pajamas,
waiting to hear the recording of a journalist
being dismembered alive;
Schubert streaming in EarPods,
drowning out the screams.
And the grinding of the the bone cutter
making his mark
on all of us.



I was standing in line at the Home Depot
with a cart full of ceramic pots and soil,
when I spotted her.
She couldn’t have been more than 18,
a whisper of a girl in red lipstick,
her hair blazing with the same razor cut
I used to wear when I was her age.
I noted the color of her eyes,
the shape of her mouth,
her graceful neck.
There was only the slightest budding of breasts.
The guy in front of me had two shopping carts
loaded with fertilizer and succulents,
which gave me enough time to locate an old photo of myself online,
looking like her twin.
As I approached the register I turned my phone around
to show her the image.
Her eyes narrowed,
“Why do you have a picture of me in your phone?”
“It’s not you. It’s me back in 1986.”
She grabbed the phone from my hand.
“What the fuck?”
“Uncanny, eh?” I laughed.
She eyeballed me up and down several times
as she rang up the pots,
her gaze falling on my disheveled bun,
my middle-aged hips,
and the muddy paw prints walking across my blouse
and down my jeans.
She asked to see the photo again.
“Are you sure that’s you?”
“As sure as I’m standing here.”
And as she turned around
to scan the bags of soil in my cart,
I heard her suck her breath in and say,
“Jesus Christ.
What the hell happened?”


Wendy Rainey’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Trailer Park Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, and several other journals and anthologies. Her book, Hollywood Church: Short Stories and Poems, was published by Vainglory Press in 2015. She is a contributing poetry editor on Chiron Review.