Adulting by Charlotte Seley

Green jar containing floating dishes behind purple curtain


I never feel as desperate as when   I'm trying
to open a pickle jar or clip my cat's claws
as he swipes clean between my eyes or when
the shower rod fell off the wall that one time
I lived in that Somerville apartment with a group
of three other boys they ate all my food and once
I had to piss in the sink all over the cups and
dishes they never thought to wash the house
was old appeared to have horse hair in the wall
apparently before I lived there a random guy
was known to sleep in the vestibule sometimes
the porch too a desperate living quarters for
desperate times it was $500 a month and I had
a walk-in closet so what is the real complaint here?
My bed would shake when my roommate would
fuck his girlfriend who practically lived there too
and the other girlfriends making us seven sharing
one bathroom I tried very little and tried hard
to be there as little as possible a friend of theirs
pounded on my door to come in and didn't I want to
and I didn't I hated the walk from Davis Square
and freezer burnt pints of ben & jerry's at tufts convenience
which a Yelper describes as smelling like “the ass
of a long deceased beast” but when it snows
and snows and you're stuck in the house of horse hair
and horrors you make sacrifices before adulting
became a buzzword it was a real skill I lacked and lack
I still eat cheese squares over the sink think this is how
to nurture a body in decline my body is an old truck
I drive around the country never relying on the kindness
of strangers but rather the mythology of Dateline
that most women get killed by someone they know
so most strangers are probably safe statistically
or rather in a retelling of my tragedies by Lester Holt
I've done a lot of dumb shit but never died
it's actually remarkable in the first grade a boy
punched me in the nose blood all over my little
mermaid puff paint sweatshirt and I knew him
and I still didn't die the principal made him
apologize but he wasn't sorry he's probably still swinging
fists out there for all I know punching little girls with
opinions and swagger what do I even know about
being a grown woman and why do I tolerate the bare
minimum of decency—a stranger didn't kill me today
the boy on the bus didn't punch me today I paid
my bills on time and ate a leafy vegetable—I am
desperately looking for good days in bad places
and everyone starts with what they can cobble together—
oblong threads of lint, spare change, a tiny sliver of hope


Charlotte Seley is a poet, writer, and editor from the Hudson Valley region of New York, currently residing in Kansas City with her cat, Lord Byron. She is the author of The World is My Rival (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and the chapbook DIE YOUNG: LETTERS TO KE$HA (dancing girl press, 2019). Find her on the internet at

Miriam Rae-Silver is an artist currently painting in oils and making comics. Her work can be seen at