Substitutions so glib you hardly notice them
that’s what you’re looking for.

If you can find all fourteen before the hourglass
inverts and ketchup splatters
across the chests of twin cowboys
you’ll win an all expense paid trip to fluorescence.

Not a lasso but a golden ring.
Not boots but cross-trainers.

Only ten more
and you’ll be showered with pastel, piped-in music,
rock stars selling straight jackets.

Not a body but a six pack.
Not a face but a theory
of unified features.

Only one of them has a horse
an Appaloosa with a weakness for Rimbaud.

He waits in a field over the far ridge
just past the edge of the placemat.

He might stay there all day.
He might wait there till the very end.

Instead, just as you’re about to call it quits
he explodes into motion
clears vinyl in a single bound
and before you know what’s happening
you’re riding bareback in adagio.

That’s when you notice your hair is burning blue.

Menus catch fire and dissolve.

Lori Lamothe has published poems in 42opus, The Nervous Breakdown, Goblin Fruit, Seattle Review and Psychic Meatloaf, among other journals. She works as a mentor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Program and blogs at