3 Poems by Tucker Leighty-Phillips

Illustration by Nia Chavez; a green hummingbird sipping a pink flower through a window.

Spider Predicament

I woke to find a spider in my mouth, tickling my tonsils, poking me with its small hairy limbs. I cleared my throat and the propulsion launched the spider to the front of my mouth, and I plucked it from my tongue and nestled it on my lap. The spider was a Daddy Long Legs. One of its limbs was bright yellow. Who do you think you are, I said to the spider. Sorry, he said back, you’ve got to eat me, we’ve got a quota to meet. Eight per year. I told him that was just a rumor. That’s just a rumor, I said. You don’t actually eat eight spiders in your sleep per year. The spider looked puzzled. Oh? Well then why do we keep doing this? The spider was using his yellow leg to scratch his little spider head. I told him I wasn’t sure. Force of habit, probably. You mind if I go in anyway? he asked. It’s warm and cozy in there. Much better than the outside world. Everything’s so cold out in the outside world. My wife was eaten by a guy in Whitesburg last month. Things just haven’t been the same without her. She called this my spaghetti leg. I thought the spider might be crying. I told him he could go in once I’d fallen asleep, figuring I wouldn’t mind too much, and plus it was New Year’s Eve so what the heck, one more couldn’t hurt.

I Miss the Hummingbirds

that used to drink from the feeder at my window in the mornings. Now only the screamingbirds come, knocking their thick, slimy bodies against the feeding platform, smacking the window, unsettling the windchimes. They are always bleating guttural squawks from their knobby humanoid faces early in the mornings, faces often resembling distant friends or the neighbor’s son. I removed the feeder months ago, but still they come, screaming their wordless cries, pleading for nobody in particular, crying so loudly you start to believe that maybe someone in is danger in the safety of your home, or maybe there is no safety in your home, or maybe your home is on fire, or maybe you’re the one screaming all along.

My High School Favorite Novel

My High School Favorite Novel reached out to me on Facebook, asked if I still lived in Phoenix, said he was coming through on a work trip. I picked him up from the airport and we went out for dinner. My High School Favorite Novel ordered onion rings and rubbed the breading between his fingers until it smeared and the onion poked through. He drank his beer in strange, heavy gulps, guzzling until his mouth filled, swallowing down the load all at once, like a flushing toilet. So what have you been up to, I asked. I work in insurance, my High School Favorite Novel replied. He showed me photos of his kids and wife, all from Facebook. We drank. He told me he missed the good old days, the high school days, the boy we sure got into a bunch of bullshit didn’t we days. My High School Favorite Novel dribbled some rib sauce down his pages, tried to pat it down but only further imprinted it. Some of his words became slurred. He made a hand motion mid-story and knocked his water over, spilling ice across the table like scattered marbles. When the waitress dropped off the check, My High School Favorite Novel made an objectifying comment about her body. He said it as a means to reach across the table, like a handshake, a way to say we still keep secrets between us, we’re still the same old guys. I asked if he needed a ride back to his hotel. He said we should do this again sometime. He forgot his jacket in the restaurant booth and we had to go back. He repeated some blurbs that he’d already told me earlier. When he got out of the car, he said we should do this again sometime, I said for sure man, just hit me up on Facebook. He forgot his doggy bag on the passenger side floor.

Tucker Leighty-Phillips is a writer from Southeastern Kentucky. His website is TuckerLP.net. His Twitter is @TheNurtureBoy.

Nia Chavez is an Illustrator + Designer from Bedstuy. She is a Pratt graduate with a BFA in Communications Design. Nia loves befriending cats, all seven 90 Day Fiancé spinoffs, grouping her Spotify playlists by year and mood, AND when you check out her Instagram and her website.

This honorarium has been directed at the poet’s request to Louisville Community Bail Fund. About: The Louisville Community Bail Fund exists to not only bail out folks, but provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety. Donate here.