Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

by Janelle Rainer


The seven-year-old girl in the apartment below
has been practicing her own rendition
of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” 
for the past twenty minutes. She changes
the pitch, even the tune, as she sings,
moving from a whisper to a scream
almost gracefully. Her parents probably
bribed her to put on this performance
to get back at us for having sex at midnight
right above their bedroom. Both activities
are equally as torturous if you’re not
directly involved. Most of the time,
we live quietly, hoping that nobody
will hear us, but growing louder all the same.


Janelle Rainer is a poet, painter and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest. Janelle worked as a soda fountain waitress, peach orchard laborer, and shoe salesman before earning her B.A. in English from Whitworth University, followed by her M.F.A. in Poetry from Pacific University. Janelle’s poetry has been published in numerous journals, including Harpur Palate and The Louisville Review, and her paintings have been featured in venues in and around Spokane, Washington. Her debut poetry collection, Two Cups of Tomatoes, was released in October 2015.