[15] Phosphorus

From the sequence ‘Autobiochemistry’
Photo by Pixabay /​Pexels [15] Phosphorus
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At school I volunteered
to set the lab stockroom in order.
Sealed in a navy lab coat

I took inventory.
Gathered for disposal
crumbling samples, mystery solutions.

Rewrote acid-​rotted labels.
Re-​pickled a funnel-​web.
Marvelled at copper’s rosy gleam.

Dusted the jar of white phosphorus,
a sullen chunk
stored underwater. Like it,

I felt my power
contained. In time, I would escape
into the air. Go up in flames.


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Tricia Dearborn

Tricia Dearborn is an award-​winning poet, writer and editor. Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals in Australia, as well as internationally and online, and is represented in anthologies such as “Contemporary Australian Poetry,” “Australian Poetry since 1788” and “The Best Australian Poems.” Tricia is a judge of this year’s University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, which offers $15,000 for the best single poem. Her new collection is “Autobiochemistry,” available at uwap​.uwa​.edu​.au/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​a​u​t​o​b​i​o​c​h​e​m​i​s​t​r​y. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

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