The Housecoat

by Kevin McLellan

Younger, in the photo, her almond-eyes
and Venus flytrap eyelashes—now older
her thinning skin, the scabs on her arms
she picks, some just come off, others bleed,
and she dabs them with a Kleenex,
puts it in her pockets with the others.

Kevin McLellan is the author of Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Editions, forthcoming), Ornitheology (The Word Works), [box] (Letter [r] Press), Tributary (Barrow Street), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens). He won Gival Press’ Oscar Wilde Award and the Third Coast Poetry Prize, and his writing appears in numerous journals. Kevin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “The Housecoat”?

The poem, “The Housecoat” combines two non-fictions to create a fiction. I noticed a young woman in a drugstore chain with the longest eyelashes I had ever seen, seemingly real, which were accentuated with mascara and they looked like venus flytrap hairs. The older woman in the poem is my fraternal grandmother who, near the end of her life, attempted to use guilt to emotionally trap me for not visiting her often enough. She always wore a housecoat with used Kleenex in the pockets—an inescapable image, at least for me.


Congrats to the Best Small Fictions nominations from Matter Press for Compressed Creative Arts: Sara Backer’s “Oh, What a Night”; Dan Crawley’s “Powers”; Jill Talbot’s “Malahat Highway on Boxing Day”; Christopher Allen’s “Falling Man;” and Kathy Fish’s “Five Micros.”


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period opens March 15, 2019; submit here.


02/13 • Sue Mell
02/18 • Emanuele Pettener
02/20 • Marge Simon
02/25 • Jeff Friedman
02/27 • Heather Bourbeau
03/04 • Dennis Mombauer
03/06 • Robin Moss
03/11 • Jacqueline Doyle
03/13 • Dawn Vogel
03/18 • Tamara Gane
03/20 • Tiff Holland
03/25 • Sara Crowley
03/27 • Hannah van Didden
04/01 • Ian Mahler
04/08 • Cindy Hunter Morgan
04/15 • Mason Binkley