Post-Apocalypse Postcard with American Girl

Back in her childhood bedroom, she can’t decide what to pack – the Tom Petty and Elvis records, her ticket stubs from American Idol? Ancient icons – the flag, her baton, her majorette costume – seem less useful now than Tupperware, aspirin, Bactine and Band-Aids. She longed for her mother to tell her once again what to do – not to wear her bangs too long, or her skirt too short. Not to wear too much lipstick. She was thankful for her lessons from summer camp – cooking eggs in a skillet over a fire, learning to shoot a shotgun at seven, and her aim was still true despite skinny arms. She could still sing the Star Spangled Banner with the best of them. Beneath the wild eyes of her faded toy horses, the blank grey faces of dead television sets, she dreams once more of a little more life, somewhere else. She ties the laces of her rollerblades tight, determined for once to do much more than survive.


Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Best Horror of the Year. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is