Kitchen --A Norman Mailer Cento


-A Norman Mailer Cento

Andy, you wanted something very white and formica,

Something clean, sterile.

You didn’t want a plot,

Just a situation among situations.

You wanted a centerpiece,

A pale albatross human sacrifice–

Long legs in black tights ready to implode.

Andy, in a hundred years they will look at me,

See that incredibly cramped little set,

That tiny apartment, that kitchen—

Maybe it was eight feet wide, or six.

Photographed from a middle distance in a long, low medium shot,

It looked even narrower.

Nothing but the kitchen table, the refrigerator, the stove, the male actors and me.

The refrigerator hummed and droned on the soundtrack.

I had a dreadful cold—

One of those colds you get spending the long winter in a cold-water flat.

My voice dull, it bounced off the enamel and plastic surfaces.

I was a horror to watch.

It was every boring, dead day anyone has ever had in the city,

A time when everything wreaks of the odor of damp washcloths and old drains.

Yes, that is the way it was in the late Fifties, early Sixties in America.

That’s why they had the war in Vietnam.

That’s why the rivers became polluted.

That’s why the horror came down.

That’s why the plague was on its way.

Andy, I live my part too, only I can’t figure out what my part is in this movie. 

Susan Cossette


Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up (2017), she is a two-time recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and MothAdelaideClockwise CatAnti-Heroin ChicThe Scarecrow, The Amethyst Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.  By day, she is the Director of Annual Giving at Breck School in Golden Valley, MN, where she secretly wishes she was a member of the English Department.

Her poetry collection Peggy Sue Messed Up and other poems is available at Amazon

Direct Amazon Link


  1. i feel an old soul from the east coast inhabiting good writing like the days of my youth. welcome to ariel.

    1. Hugs, from Minneapolis, Chelsea! A fellow east coast girl here!

  2. a stronger contender for my poem of the year. excellent work, young lady.

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