Maus Kelava



if i’ve been handed lemons,
i will make ten barrels of lemonade
and use them to begin a flood.
it’s been twenty-seven hours
since i spilled the last acidic barrel,
but it’s been years since i’ve spilled blood.

before i chose composure,
i let my heart claw out its own temper
in my riotous, hungry days.
but life’s deep draught could not sate,
and i chose the tang of sun-sweet citrus
over death’s heat and vinous haze.

so now i ravage lemons,
as a placid way for me to express
clandestine thoughts i’ve always felt.
when i return to my home,
i’ll leave a cucumber in the oven
and watch all the cellulose melt.


the first time and worst time you told me you loved me,
from the passenger seat of my car,
i saw ash in the sky and clouds crash above me
and the line in the road as a scar.
but i’d never reveal the screaming of steel
that i heard in my head as it tore,
i could just let my hands rest, feel safe on the wheel,
and drive home with more care than before.

Maus Kelava is the University of Florida’s preeminent teeth scholar. He would like to thank his mouth for its generous tooth donation, and apologize to his bones for not finding them as special.

We want to SEE your work

Applause publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, visual art, and photography that exhibits practiced craft and polished style. We are interested in authentic and personal work that displays an understanding of craft and creativity. We want work that honors tradition and respects risks.