Mercury in Retrograde

An image of a large amount of stuffed toy penguins, arranged together in lines.

Even our stuffed penguin, Dave, is reporting emotional issues

on account of being an outsider and an innovator

I get it, I just don’t understand him

I get the names of his friends mixed up

I could never be as involved in his inner life

as I am my own

he’s off studying world history, bird psychology


talks of new codes, manifestos

birds with guns, taking over.

Like a tired, spiraling mom

I’m ready to let him do anything

to keep productive

you know of idle flippers

how they twist arms

maybe fistfuls of hair.

Do you ever look at the greying flesh

on this totem son of ours

the strings that hang from his right foot

the fading Bahamian resort emblem

tramp stamped on his back

as if penguins can come from the Carribean

as if one as sophisticated as Dave would have a tattoo.

Can this only mean he lived a life of suffering

sweltering miserable degraded

hanging onto diminishing hope

for polar vertices

these cold Chicago winters

parents who love him

enough to speak through him

when he has no voice

and they no other body

or is he just an empty vessel

straight from the factory floor


An image of Selena Cotte, a dark-haired person with glasses smiling directly into the camera.

Selena Cotte is a poet, journalist & shapeshifter living in Chicago by way of Orlando. Her poems are published or forthcoming in journals such as Peach Mag, HAD, Sad Girl Review, 3 Moon Magazine & others. She can be found online @selenacotte, wherever you think that may work.