Sarah Carleton

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Six Flamingo Postcards

Summer-party still life.
Plastic flamingos, cherry tomatoes, mojitos.

Hand-tinted salmon-pink flamingos stain
my day-to-day in pencil shades,
time warping me back to hatboxes,
trains, and sticker-stamped suitcases.

Nuclear-family values gone amok:
two flamingos on a lawn
instead of a flock.

A flamingo colony in a Kenyan lake
looks like a field of pink-and-white tulips.
They’ll partner up and form groups for synchronized
wing flapping and head turning—a flamboyant
square dance.

Each morning I stand on one leg
to fix my runner’s knee.
I welcome the way my outer
thigh muscles come to attention,
making the loose leg seem irrelevant.
On two feet again, I walk like a flamingo
in a woman suit.

Flamingos of flaming crimson
eat plankton to make them blush deeper.
I slurp carrot soup till I’m orange.

Food Medicine

The guy at the mixed martial arts studio
holds up a quart of mango juice, all pulp.

His soccer-ball biceps have veins looped around them
like beaded bangles.

I love that stuff, says my son
who, like me, still chooses beverages based on flavor.

This is good for your liver—dude flashes a white jar,
milk thistle. But when I say, Dandelion root is great for that too,

he looks at me like I’m a wall of scrambled letters.
And this—the magician-bouncer pulls from nowhere

a gallon green bottle of olive oil—replenishes the oxygen.
As though it were a variation of castor oil

rather than the substance we are made of,
the reason greens exist, the secret in the soup.


Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, tutors English, plays the banjo, and makes her husband laugh in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was recently published by Kelsay Books.