poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Deborah Filanowski

Deborah Filanowski won the first Plan B Press poetry chapbook contest for 2001 for ...and guppies eat their young. Here are two poems from that collection.



I whisper sibilant sounds against your ear,
your eyes wide, your mouth an O.
I lick and kiss your little fingers,
tasting there the applesauce you had for lunch,
make raspberry sounds against your round baby belly.
Powder and lotion, sweet clean baby,
you smell good enough to eat.
I would begin with your tender toes,
crunch them, crack them between my teeth,
make you part of me again.
Hansel and Gretel’s wicked witch has been much maligned.
She baked children into gingerbread to save them,
keep them children, spare them pain.
Oh my sweet delicious baby,
it would be kinder to serve you up as stew.
But I will let you laugh and grow sleek and fat,
and when the time comes, send you out into the world
where life will gnaw you, grind you, and gobble you down.




The snow piles up outside the door.
I drink my second cup of coffee, reveling in the silence.
The children wake, the stillness shatters with the chant
“No school! No school!”
The arguments begin.
Who will walk the dog,
what television show to watch.
power struggle for the remote control.
Name-calling increases in frequency and intensity.

Now I know why guppies eat their young.

Breakfast. They argue about the menu,
then decide they are not hungry.
When my arms are elbow high in suds
conconcted to dissolve scum and skin,
they announce they are ready to eat.
and whine when informed the kitchen is closed.

Cowbirds lay their eggs in other bird’s nests.

Chores assigned, none onerous.
One minute of work elicits two minutes of complaints.
To salvage the day, I suggest a game.
We argue another twenty minutes.
One will not play Scrabble. The other says no to Yahtzee.
I veto Monopoly. Compromise brings us to Canasta.

It is the male seahorse that bears the young.

Morning’s disagreements fade. Darkness falls.
An hour late, my husband pushes through the door.
No time for hot soup and warm bread.
He goes to do battle with the snow,
cutting six-foot swaths with the snow blower
where a two-foot path would do.
Hours pass, he staggers in, icicles hang from his mustache.
He wants his dinner, his paper, his remote,
the television is too loud, the children too rambunctious.

And the praying mantis kills her mate.

Deborah Filanowski is a native of West Virginia and has lived in PA for 30 years. She hosted a monthly poetry reading at Stonehedge Gardens for several years and was instrumental in organizing The North Eastern Pennsylvania Poetry Festival, held at Stonehedge Gardens in Tamaqua from 2006 to 2009. …and guppies eat their young was published by Plan B Press in conjunction with the “Lancaster OutLoud Poetry Festival” in September 2001 and a second printing was made in 2005.


Published in Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2010.