Cheryl Snell, “Wrong Word”

Cheryl Snell’s poetry collections include chapbooks from Finishing Line Press, Pudding House, and Moira Books. A full length volume, Prisoner’s Dilemma, in collaboration with the late expressionist artist Janet Snell, won the Lopside Press Chapbook Competition. Cheryl’s work has appeared often, online and in print, and has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart and Best of the Net anthologies. Her most recent work is the novel Kalpavriksha, the final part of a series about the India diaspora. She lives with her husband in Maryland, twelve miles from the Capitol.

orange line

Wrong Word

Pink muscle
dangling syllable.
pinch it; damp sandpaper.
What to listen for—
sounds rolling off
dropping behind the teeth.
a hard swallow—
the garbled noise
of a liar caught in a lie.
One word, both
noun and verb: stroke, battle.
Alphabets elude,
substitutes make mockery—
a red bicycle turning down
a bombed-out alley.
Run toward it—
past ripped lettering
stripped from a sign
that shows one owl
pinching the inexplicable
in its beak.





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