Dana Wildsmith


Mama called to ask if smoke alarms give death cries.
Hers just now squealed, she said,
and then fell to the floor.
Yes, as I’ve been trying to warn her,
there can be a high rate of failure-to-thrive
among smoke alarms, chairs, pencils:
any such household plunder, which is,
after all, an assemblage of orphans.
Attention is the key to prevention:
rotate your dishes
that the back bowls not feel neglected.
Turn fans off; allow them to steady themselves.
When a pen dries up, don’t let
the other pens watch you throw it away.
Smooth your sheets; unbend page corners;
straighten charleyhorsed rug fringe.
Thank your mailbox for its daily gifts.
At night when you lock your doors,
say a small benediction of tumbler and wood.
Impress your pillow
with useful dreams.