Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

Caged Birds by Kris Kaila

young woman with silver hair and glasses resting her chin on her hand wearing a peach colored sweater

when my mom chides me for laughing too much/

i wonder if it’s because she was never allowed to sing/ it is my Bibi/ her mother/ that sings or hums while washing dishes/ sewing on a button/ or when I lay my head on her lap/ and she knows to stroke my hair/ my mom never sings/

she will only tear out melodious tones from her throat when we sing shabad in the gurdwara/ she says it’s not singing/ and when i sometimes shake my shoulders to the shabad/ that is not for singing/ she eyes me with a look that feels worse than when my cousin once hit me in the head with a plastic cup/

her eyes squint as she tells me too much laughter taunts tears to fall/ i still shudder when i think of it/ i was giggling before the cup came hurling at me/ even when I chuckle too loud/ all alone/ i whisper Waheguru/ i’m not sure if i’m keeping the tears of sorrow from exploding into some evil eye curse/

or warding off my mom’s gaze/

Kris (she/her) is a Punjabi Canadian poet, writer, book reviewer & blogger. She enjoys dabbling in visual art, cross-stitching/embroidery while drinking copious amounts of coffee or tea from her ever growing mug collection. She is a member of the LCP and FBCW and a Pushcart Prize nominee for 2023. On rainy days in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Kris is usually reading or watching true crime docs if not writing and can be found @krisesque_life (IG).

young woman with red hair smiling at the camera with a white paper umbrella behind her

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dripped on the blanket while air rustled tamarind trees. Chekhov drank a Thai iced tea and plummeted out of this poem. A flock of circles twittered in the hacksaw bushes


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