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"Winter Wonderland" & "The Mirror Stage" by J.D. Isip

Winter Wonderland

There’s a mechanical Mrs. Claus and Santa, each with a small light for their candles as if they were at a front porch ready to carol whoever opened the door to them, as if that is what we ever did, opened up— Mom bought them on clearance from Gemco, the year she had work at Helen Grace Chocolates, let us have the fresh toffee bars, strawberries she’d just dipped, the three-layered truffles she made better than anyone. It was the year they knocked her off the bus stop bench, all the money and the government check, all of the days in the sweets shop, long nights at Sav-on, where she’d put some stuffed elephants on layaway for us, all of it running off down Via Wanda Avenue, Mom screaming for help and nobody coming. She just stopped, walked back home, didn’t cry, just said we’d better pray as hard as we could because she couldn’t anymore. People don’t believe me. About the nurses who took up donations, brought us board games and Christmas dinner. About my brother Sam and his friend begging the tree lot to give us some almost dead thing nobody was gonna buy. About why I listen to Christmas music sometimes six months out of the year, same songs from the 80s, Larry Groce on the Disney Christmas album, was singing “Winter Wonderland” on one of Mom’s only lucky nights. Belief. It all seems too perfect, they say. Too Hallmark. How it all comes together, like they missed the part of Mom’s scraped knees, the year we let ourselves in, ate only candy she snuck us after a long day gone. What’s hard to believe?

The Mirror Stage

God, she loved to talk about Lacan. If you hear someone say dialectic, you had better buckle up cause here comes some shit about the body and recognition, like she ever cared about a body outside of the conceptual form, not the body bodies she dismissed as idiots who didn’t catch her lessons, couldn’t see themselves as toddlers too stupid to notice what they are watching is their alien selves waving back, row upon row, an other, another, other.

J.D. Isip’s full-length poetry collections include Kissing the Wound (Moon Tide Press, 2023) and Pocketing Feathers (Sadie Girl Press, 2015). His third collection, tentatively titled I Wasn’t Finished, will be released by Moon Tide Press at the end of 2024 or early 2025. J.D. teaches at Collin College in Plano, Texas, where he lives with his dogs, Ivy and Bucky.


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