In The Beginning Instant Coffee Wasn't a Thing

Dalton Day

Then a person was

pressed for time

Between the two or so of us 

I haven’t dyed my hair 

because I haven’t found 

the right color

I want it to be the color

of seafoam

but the way seafoam looks 

to a fish that’s lived

its entire life in darkness 

then suddenly decides

it doesn’t really like it there

O to have a small house

filling with a smell

you worry about until

a professional tells you it’s ok 

I figured, you tell her

but still you move soon after 

You make a nest

out of cigarette butts

You slip into a sleep so great 

people lower their voices 

when they walk by

out of an instinct nobody 

really knows anything about 


Dying in the happy baby pose

Pain is a word & a sensation

like taking a step in the dirt

without expecting

your footprint being left behind

Well would you look at that

Consider these new shoes old

Simultaneously I enjoy

new songs + wonder

when the banjo will come in

I’m disappointed

if a little relieved

Some days want to be stretched

Are you thinking of taffy

How the first dentist to try it

looked ahead at her life

more complicated than ever

At some point the trail

is not really a trail

but a shape you measure

for no other reason than to use

your thumbnail

An approximate inch

Dalton Day is the author of the collections Actual Cloud (Saló Press) and Exit Pursued (Plays Inverse), as well as a recipient of a James A. Michener fellowship. His poems have been featured in The Offing, Columbia Poetry Review, & PANK, among others. Currently, he is an MFA candidate in the New Writers Project at UT Austin.

Illustration by Ben Armson. Check out his work here!