Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Pizza Rat

PR likes the hustle and gum
heels are guillotines
cement cracks leak tokens,
saliva and cigarette butts
avoid the small skull smash
PR brings the crust fast
uplifts the angles slow
and business lunch-like
time to turn up the grime
heaves the slice
each step a dam
each step Mt. Rushmore,
the gasps and ews of J crew skirts
and Fridays and A train drummers
smirk and pound
these giant hordes
shuffle smack
desperate sidestep
erase this sound bite image,
this gray fur terrorist
a humming beer vomit
a grease assault whiff
sliding door gust
pushes rat to the top
he knew this was a catch
had to cache it early
before 5 o’clock rush
paws swivel and slick
slide and stick
the 6th step, 7th, 10th,
plunge forward
muster and pluck
avoid a stomp
these days
the tunnels and television
are dark
the giants overhead
the monster machines
scream and steam
he’ll die

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she likes to rock climb. She is the author of four full length poetry collections and twelve chapbooks. Recent work can be seen at or is forthcoming from The Pinch, Cleaver, Yalobusha Review, Zone 3, and Grist. She also hosts an indie reading series sponsored by the non-profit organization Iowa City Poetry called Today You Are Perfect. Find her at http://jennifermacbainstephens.com/.