The Survivalists


We hasten to an underground fortress
and seal the hatch. It’s comfortable in here.
Silk flowers thrive in the corridors,
and private bedrooms come furnished
with treadmills and cable TV.
Those fortunate enough to have skylights
rent armchairs to acquaintances,
who sit in the sun, sipping tea.
Some days we struggle to outlast,
so we check ourselves into the clinic.
Lining the exam room walls are empty frames
for our minds to fill with memories
of failing those we love. Without warning,
gravity bears down with increasing pressure
until our knees collapse and we fall to the floor.
Only then does a symphony set forth from speakers.
As the movements progress, we rage
then wilt, and by the final allegro, are weeping.
It’s true we may never again feel the wind
though we’ll have fans to comfort us,
not rain, either, but showers, and the sound of rain
against the skylights. Occasionally hail.




Elizabeth Onusko’s first full-length collection, Portrait of the Future with Trapdoor, will be published by Red Paint Hill in spring 2016. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Witness, Best New Poets 2015, Redivider, Slice Magazine, and The Awl, among others. She is assistant editor of inter|rupture. Her website is



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