ISSN 1543-6063 WWW.MIPOESIAS.COM
edited by Jenni Russell
F R O M T H E E D I T O R V O L U M E 2 2 I S S U E 5 S U M M E R 2 0 0 8
Sex work: the phrase itself conjoins two of the most loaded words in
our society. Some believe American culture is saturated with sex while others
feel sex is repressed. The phrase “sex sells” is hardly exclusive to the adult
entertainment industry. Likewise, work is something we must do for money
and where the class system is set forth, transactional, a setting where one
person serves another for compensation. Neither word will elicit the same MI contents
reaction as when the two are put together. When it comes to sex work,
almost everyone has an opinion—whether they’ve worked in the industry or
not. Some opinions are based on how the media depicts the adult
entertainment industry, and others are based on feminist theory, theology,
personal experience, history, nature, culture, or simply gut instinct.
The stories and poetry I selected represent a broad range of voices
and styles, from the subtle pathos of Franz Wright’s lovely poem to the edgy
urbanism found in Collin Kelley’s poetry. Sex work is the obvious focus of
15 Gregory Donovan
some pieces while for others it’s a presence, a ghost haunting the
periphery—always felt more than seen. David Petruzelli’s poem, How It
15 Collin Kelley
JENNI RUSSELL, EDITOR
Started, beautifully illustrates the fear associated with an anonymous 18 Brian Campbell
encounter, and how the encounter becomes a form of escape: “Then I stood THE STAFF
and took my place among the missing.” Brian Campbell’s prose poem, There
She Lies, wittily shows the relationship between how cosmetics are advertised Publisher
19 Janann Dawkins
and how sex is sold. Tayve Nees’s poem, Sea Whore, uses oceanic imagery
to create a figurative collage of the prostitute. J. D. Smith’s short story,
DIDI MENENDEZ 24 David Petruzelli
Interview, aptly captures a young man who is as vulnerable as the woman
soliciting him. A few writers in this issue use humor to explore the theme. Editor 26 Montgomery Maxton
Christopher Luna’s poem, Two Letters in Memory of an Aborted Lapdance, JENNI RUSSELL 27 Taye Neese
uses a humor reminiscent of Robert Creeley to capture his disappointment
when a lap dancer isn’t feeling him the same way he’s feeling her. Alan
King’s God’s Little Helper shows how a kid satisfies his need for attention
Creative Director 36 Christopher Luna
I. M. BESS
through a phone sex service. In some of these pieces, theology and adult
entertainment meet. In Ellen Konbiyil’s prose poem, A Meeting with God,
37 Alan King
sexuality and fantasy follow her into the afterlife, but her expectations are
debunked. In Erika Mikkalo’s A Bright Square, two police officers discuss the
Cover Artist 38 Ellen Kombiyil
teachings of Jesus while they debate whether or not to arrest a prostitute.
Montgomery Maxton’s Pin-Stripe Pant-Suit satirizes the Biblical story of Adam
39 Franz Wright
and Eve, with Eve finding salvation in her sexuality. Some pieces in this issue
capture the complex emotions associated with being a worker or a client. In
Gregory Donovan’s powerful poem, Oracle on 42nd Street, the speaker
sees the entertainer as an all-knowing source of power who can tap into the
THE SHORT STORIES
truth of desire. Jannan Hawkins’ Sebastian, insightfully depicts the moment
right before an encounter with a client at a brothel. In Geer Austin’s touching
18 J.D. Smith: Interview
story, Lost on the Lido, sex work and love intersect when a male escort
develops a complicated, yet tender relationship with his client. Cindy Kelly’s
20 Erika Mikkalo: Bright Square
story, The Brief Existence of Lainey O’Galeigh, shows how a persona
created for a brief stint as a sex fantasy operator continues to perplex her
28 Geer Austin: Lost on the Lido
identity long after she’s quit.
Opinions are like bellybuttons, almost everybody has one, and for
40 Cindy Kelly: The Brief Existence
this issue I chose pieces that went deeper than opinion—writing that
questioned the meaning of the phrase “sex work” itself. And in the end, that
of Lainey O’Galeigh
general category “sex work” is exploded and challenged by the writer’s
refusal to reduce a human life to theories or catchphrases, and instead to
Copyright reverts back to authors/artists upon publication. MiPOesias Magazine requests first publisher rights of poems
capture the universal experiences shared by all of us: love, growing up, published in future reprints of books, anthologies, web site publications, podcasts, radio, etc. This issue is available as a free
honesty, rejection, curiosity, vulnerability, compassion, doubt, desire, download pdf file. Print copies available at www.amazon.com. Please support our press by buying a copy. For submission
loneliness, and beauty. guidelines and further information on MiPOesias Magazine, please stop by www.mipoesias.com.
2 MIPOESIAS 3 MIPOESIAS
P O E T R Y
Oracle on 42nd Street gregory
Could be rappers have it. A woman
is a hammer. Mahfouz says so now.
Oh it’s a thoroughfare in the heart of little old
New York and friend Mahfouz drives a cab straight
into the cavernous night called Manhattan,
shows me to the street where the underworld
can meet the elite. He knows better
than almighty God where to find the best
mipoesias.com Chinese or Greek, the last warm falafel,
the darkest corner where a whore will flip
her breasts from her tube top like headlights
staring over a cliff. Curious? He is always
knowing where it’s at, and now it’s this basement
full of ozone and sniff, charged with the toll
every mother’s son will pay to be caught
loitering in the grasp of its smoky red light,
where every move you make pounding your head
will cost. Instantly Mahfouz disappears
somewhere laughing and I’m left to pull open
the first door that comes cold to my blind hand.
I am standing up like other men
stacked in a circle, each one in his cramped
closet, the plywood coffins of a potter’s field.
I take my place on the compass, slipping
quarters in, money to raise the dead velvet
curtain on the writhing couple, dead-center
on the circular bed. What they manage
P O E T R Y - G R E G O R Y D O N O V A N P O E T R Y - G R E G O R Y D O N O V A N
oracle on 42nd street oracle on 42nd street
to do, I won’t tell—unless you give me and losing mine, I am going to pay
a quarter—more than it’s worth, I’m sure, to anyone for this again. What do I want, for God’s sake.
with an imagination. Outside, in the outer circle, She will offer anything my little heart
more blank doors, things you do alone with more desires but soon this door, oh friend, will close.
silver in the slot. When the partition shoots up,
a figure before me in a bare glass cage, I say it: I want to know
a cloud of white hair, a black bra and thong how to get out of this place.
and impenetrable Gorgon stare who
picks up the phone, motions for me She nearly smiles, her eyes are cold.
to pick up my end in my small dirty room. The snake raises its head to taste the air.
I have to kneel to hold the short-cord receiver I try again.
to my face, but she is a power in this world,
a mover and shaker, I know she will I want to know your secret name.
tell me what I need to do. Like any god,
she sees me darkly, keeps it strictly The shutter slams down, leaving me
professional, she knows the way to release to stand up again in the dark like the man
the unspeakable secret in all mankind, I am with the taste of fear, iron on the tongue,
to get anyone to say it out loud, precious as a nail driven home.
to pray and swear and hammer
against the glass that keeps all the answers
out of reach. She asks it, simple and open.
What do you want?
Drum thumps, cymbals sizzle. What do I want?
How long have I waited to find out?
She is breathing impatiently at the end
of the line, I am taking up her time
GREGORY DONOVAN teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University and
is Senior Editor for Blackbird, the online journal. He’s published a poetry collection, Calling His Children
Home, which won the Devins Award, and his poetry has been several times anthologized, most recently
in Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia, published by the University of Virginia Press. Mr.
Donovan’s poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, New England Review, The Southern Review,
Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cutbank, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among other journals.
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S TEPPING INTO a bar would have
made sense; failure had no longer tradition.
The bartender might even have time to
winning nothing for himself.
Where the inexperienced and
untrained could take refuge was less clear.
psychologize a little, if they really did that kind Bill’s new loafers chafed, even though
of thing, before the Metro disgorged its load of they were Italian, like his belt, and the designer
commuters from DC. whose name graced his after-shave. The suit
Instead, Bill walked. Sweating through a was not, by a few hundred dollars. Someone
shirt didn’t matter at this point. Still, bars kept who had known enough to wear an Italian suit,
suggesting themselves. One offered a five-liter who thus knew how things worked, might not
can of beer that came with its own tap. have been considered unqualified. It had been
Another would provide in an hour or so — the a long time since grade school — how did that
by J.D. Smith exact time mattered less than earlier in the day story go? For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
— a buffet of salted animal fats for people The suit might have been the nail. What
stopping in after work. People who had jobs. equaled the shoe was moot. Things, at any
A restaurant also beckoned, owned by a rate, had spiralled downward.
quarterback whose knee had been shredded, In that spiral, which could turn out to
his lower leg reduced to a meat pendulum, in a be as tight as that of a touchdown pass, or a
nationally televised hit. The quarterback’s knee bullet, an earnest young man might pass
was much improved; his steaks and seafood, through a fraying parade of uniforms. From cap
reputedly superb. and gown, as in May, to the present cheap
Air-conditioning, in August, lay behind suit, off an undistinguished rack, to the shirts
every door. and slacks of temp jobs in offices, the jeans
But walking seemed more important at and T-shirts of warehouses and loading docks
the moment. Another block might lead to an and, then, when that work gave out, and the
explanation of what had gone wrong at the clothes for it, the year-round coat and ragged
interview that perhaps could still be going on. beard of the homeless, that smelled like
The possible second hour throbbed like a unbathed flesh and failure and radiated the
phantom limb. odor for a good five feet.
Walking, he ignored another block of Another smell, grape juice, or discount
bars, because the interviewer said, “You’re a perfume, with an undercurrent of hair relaxer,
very earnest young man, but you don’t have a approached before a person came into his
sufficient level of training or experience.” peripheral vision.
Earnest young men didn’t need to take refuge The person became a woman who
in a bar in the middle of the afternoon. Not the drew even with him and asked, “Can I walk
pseudo-Irish one with an apostrophe name and with you?”
J.D. SMITH has published two collections of poetry, The Hypothetical Landscape (1999) and Setling a vast mutant shamrock aggressing from its She matched Bill’s stride before he
for Beauty (2005), and he is circulating two additional collections. In 2007 he was awarded a sign. Nor a sports bar, watching several games found anything to say. The interviewer had
Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. His prose has appeared in
publications including Exquisite Corpse, the Los Angeles Times and Pleiades, and his first children’s at once on the advertised thirty screens and wanted strengths and weaknesses, recent
book, The Best Mariachi in the World, will be published in September. Periodic updates appear on
his web site, www.jdsmithwriter.com 9 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - J . D . S M I T H S H O R T S T O R Y - J . D . S M I T H
accomplishments besides, he imagined, getting her trunk, where no damp cloth cleaved to her, “You must have a nice job if you can unless someone asked, as his parents would if
an interview after months of sending resumes — and past the mid-thigh hem to her bare legs. take a walk in the middle of the day like this.” he called them from the hotel tonight or, at the
two gross, to count them like binder clips, and Aside from the broad scars on her shins, they Her breathing became audible, as the sentence latest, when they picked him up at the airport
then some. were shapely, if a little too slender. Speaking of lengthened like her stride. She was civil, with tomorrow. As friends would, as a girlfriend
The stranger’s question had appeared in them didn’t seem necessary. no place to hide a knife or gun, and she would, if there were one, if anyone could be
no manual. It wasn’t necessary to speak at all. All weighed, perhaps, a hundred and ten pounds. convinced to get on board, as they might say
Before any words came to mind she day, and for the past week of preparations, It would be rude not to answer. on K Street, or Capitol Hill.
pulled even with him and matched his stride. words, like his Italian accessories, his shoe- “I don’t have any kind of job.” It would As this stranger, who for some reason at
She didn’t have to hurry. There was no place to shining labors, cents in his pockets, like the still be rude to leave the question hanging of least seemed to care, was now asking. This
go to, only places to pass by: a small bar, that Farecard with had served as a medium of why he was taking a walk, in the middle of the was a chance to rehearse the telling of bad
needed fresh paint, a laundromat, a currency exchange, as the economists might say. Words afternoon, in a gray pinstripe suit. “I had an news, at least this particular, most recent piece
exchange. The room at the motor inn was paid for a seat assignment, a taxi ride, words to interview today.” of bad news, and numb its sting by repetition,
for one more night. Because he had time to arrange an interview. More words might buy a “How’d it go?” like successive waves of peroxide over a cut.
think, Bill wondered whether the clerk job, and more money, which would lead to The receptionist hadn’t asked. She “It didn’t go well. I didn’t get the job.”
considered him strange for checking in without dates. A sufficient number of dates, it seemed hadn’t moved, sitting still, oracular; she may not Heat and regret made the fatty meats roil in his
a car, or whether he had misread his Indian to vary, could be exchanged for a girlfriend, have blinked. She must have known better than stomach.
accent as sounding judgmental. maybe a wife. That was how things worked. to say, sincerely or otherwise, “Have a nice “What kind of job were you trying for?”
The woman shivered, rippling the floral Bill’s words had been a devalued day.” Professionals didn’t waste effort. “A position as a junior policy analyst at
print of her dress that was not daisies, or roses, currency. They bought nothing with answers to The woman who walked beside him, an association.”
or any other flowers he knew. The whole questions on hypothetical crises, real contacts, closer now, was wasting effort for no reason, Something in Bill cringed, then pushed
garden was thin cotton. Still, walking in ninety- loyalties that must be shifted in order to work for or cared enough, for some reason, to waste it. his upper lip into a sneer. There was no longer
degree heat, she shouldn’t have been an industry association rather than a party or Caring could only go to waste. The resumes any point in using the canned phrases from the
shivering. think tank. In school there had been the luxury that flooded the mails, even now, could just as want ad in the Post.
“Where are you going?” of asking what was good. The question had well have stayed fifty percent on the trees, fifty “That must be some kind of office job,
These words too seemed to come out since become what was good for the industry. percent in the cotton bales that provided rag huh?”
of nowhere. Who asked questions like this? The Not Bill, apparently, or his words. content. Recycled paper hadn’t been good “I used to have an office job,” the
only answer available was, unrehearsed, the With a net worth of forty-eight seventeen enough. woman said. “I’ve had a few of them.”
truth, at least part of it. in cash, plus three-sixty on his Farecard, his The man at the canteen truck on the The statement lingered for a few paces,
“Nowhere in particular. I just had a little return flight’s value, and his depreciating shoes Mall hadn’t cared enough to ask as he incomplete, a note without an echo.
extra time and I though I’d take a walk.” and belts, less the costs of dinner tonight and retrieved the quarter-pound hot dog from its Eventually, better late than never, it
“On a day like today? With your jacket cab fare to the airport tomorrow, and the steaming bath, though he had cared enough would be rude not to ask.
and tie on? You have to be hot in those shiny amount of his student loans after today’s interest about what he was doing to shake the lightly “What kind of jobs did you have?”
black loafers.” compounded, Bill had no interest in talking. His greasy water off the dog and set aside the first “I’ve had a lot of them.”
No one else had noticed the shoes. tongue might be intangibly broken; there was bun, which was mashed down in the middle, to As they walked farther, and generated
Certainly not the interviewer. For no point in flaunting a fault, or an outright find another that was smooth and whole; Bill more heat, within the afternoon’s larger heat,
nothing, or almost nothing, Bill had invested in failure, no more than he rolled up his right wondered how that felt. Because it was a slow the cloth did not hang or drape, but rested on
a new can of Kiwi and brushed to a luster two sleeve except to give blood. No one needed to day the vendor didn’t charge for putting on her frame. She slowed a little, but not from the
thick coats, with dabs of water worked into the see his constellations of moles, some like chili. Under the circumstances any kindness weather; she did not seem overly warm. She
second. With his own hands he would fashion commas and tadpoles of hair, or Van Gogh’s was welcome. inhaled more deeply than before, as if to keep
the foundation of his wardrobe, and his career. stars, darkened. Bill started to explain how the interview talking. Bill would get to listen, as he had
“I get pretty hot sometimes, too,” she Silence did not drive the woman away. went but stopped short; he’d had enough of planned to listen during the interview. The
said, looking up, and smiling, and shivering She took in his few words, the way a desert sounding foolish for one day. personnel officer, whoever he was, or whoever
again. Bill looked down from her bare arms to plant took up a sprinkling of rain. He wasn’t providing any information had decided to be him that day, had not
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studied, as Bill had, the interview preparation ointment, or a bad toupee that a woman would it. Which, at the moment, could not be found. “How about it? I’ll give you a blow-job.
books that said that the candidate should speak eventually lift off to find his actual hair, or lack A drink from the liquor store across the It’ll only be fifteen dollars.”
no more than fifty percent of the time. The name thereof. If any woman would have a man street, or the half-empty bottle in front of the Bill stopped, and she passed him by
was already blurring, best forgotten, like calf without hair, or a job — if he looked for the storefront church, was becoming what half a stride before she stopped and turned
cramps or a cracked index finger. punishment of approaching a woman, and employed policy analysts might call a viable around.
The personnel officer du jour, du hearing, again, the speech that began “You’re option. “Wait a minute,” he said. “I don’t know
toujours for him, Bill thought, in a scrap of high- a nice guy, but . . .” Its corollary began and “Did you have your heart set on this about this.” A flat no would be rude, and final.
school French, took it upon himself to ask only ended with “Sorry, I’m already seeing job?” the woman asked. He knew. He had been on the receiving end.
a handful of open-ended questions, and do someone.” She preened an invisible nap of hair “You can get to know about this if you
most of the listening, giving him enough rope to Sometimes it was even true. with several short, quick strokes. A tautness want.”
hang himself, repeatedly, until he was no The speeches, and their speakers, ran seemed to claim the muscles of her face, and She pulled down a cotton strap of her
longer a candidate for that position. Even the together; he hadn’t heard it, or bothered to all of her joints, as she waited for an answer. dress and drew it down and out. There was no
word “candidate” had sounded appealing, solicit it, since before graduation. Her name “Not really. At this point I’ll work for second strap beneath. “Come on. I won’t bite
fresh and crisp with promise, suited as much for had started with an M, or an N, and she gave anybody.” down on you or anything.”
a salad green as a person. Who was not Bill. the nice guy speech. Otherwise, at this remove, “Me, too,” said the woman. “This doesn’t sound right.”
Who was only an earnest young man walking she was interchangeable with the rest, like the An idea, even inspiration, could come “You won’t catch anything. I’m clean. I’ll
down an unfamiliar street with a stranger. Who inaccessible jobs. All involved a desk, a from anywhere. even give you something to put on.” She
had caught her breath enough to continue. workstation, a certain facility in making “Who would you work for?” Bill asked. seemed to have trouble focusing on him. Each
“The last job I had was at my uncle’s presentations and writing position papers. The “You.” adamant eye looked straight past him, or
funeral parlor. It was kind of nice. I didn’t have position was whatever would, in pending She must have had a lapse in memory, through him, to no place in particular.
to work on the bodies or anything like that. I legislation, keep costs down and revenue up. or maybe she hadn’t been listening that well “I can’t do this.” To walk ahead, or
was typing and filing, answering the phones, For the manufacturers as opposed to the unions, after all. away, would be ruder still.
all that.” or the unions as opposed to the manufacturers, “I wish I had some work to give you, but “Sure you can.” She reached for him
“But you’re not working there now?” or both together against the environmentalists, I don’t. I’m sorry.” without raising her arm. Bill stepped aside, but
“No. I had some problems, whatever.” who were on their own. Bill heard his unweighed words, and did not lift his pivot foot.
“What kind of problems?” There was Survival wasn’t good business. The believed them. Abundance would lubricate his “You’re tougher than you look. Ten
the chance to sample, compare and contrast in green groups had provided his first round of every dealing, if it ever came his way, but that dollars.”
the words of the essay questions that had, rejections, even before the human rights didn’t seem to be in the offing. Forty-eight seventeen less ten dollars, a
apparently, led to this point. groups. They were followed by rejections from “Sure you do,” the woman said. debit to petty cash and a credit to recreation,
“Some things happened. You know how the non-partisan think tanks favored by either “What do you mean?” or physical development, something according
it is.” Republicans or Democrats. And now from the It was too soon to hear a motivational to the precepts of the accounting class he’d
“I guess I do.” associations, whose funds drove both. Even speaker or disciple thereof. That could wait until taken once, in an attempt to be practical.
“So what are you going to do now?” that would have been better than going back he got home. There would be time. Huge, “It’ll only take a minute.”
“Look for more jobs, see what happens. to the grocery store, and putting on the gaping vistas of time. This did not strengthen her position.
I’ll work anywhere that pays.” orange vest that had made him look like a The woman pointed to the intersection of “Please.” She keened as if she’d been
“Like that place you were at today?” chimpanzee. It was as easy to work for a lot as an idle loading dock, a cluster of scrub, and a struck. With a blink her eyelashes were wet.
“Yeah, there are a lot more like it.” a little. Dumpster on the next block. Being arrested for an assault that hadn’t taken
Seventeen of them had sent rejection If the job wasn’t perfect — and no job “Let’s go over there and I’ll show you place, that he hadn’t attempted, seemed
letters last week, twenty-two the week before. was — some consolation had to lie in eating what I mean.” possible at this rate.
The pace was slowing, as the possibilities lobster whenever you wanted, drinking wine She would have to. This didn’t seem like Bill scanned the next block of vacant
thinned, like a region of Bill’s hair. On a man, that came with a cork and maybe, just for the any familiar business. But it wasn’t as if he had lots, and the storefront whose sign welcomed
more or less, who could not afford hair plugs, hell of it, having an apartment with no other commitments. They were already heading food stamps, to see if anyone was looking.
or replacements, or weaves. Not hair-regrowth roommates. If the job could be found to pay for in that general direction. What you do when no one was looking, his
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father said, showed your character. From his father’s counsels, numerous and The Cerebral Prostitute collin
“Please.” This time the word seeped useful, and none of which had led him to a
through a sob. sidewalk now spangled with plastic vials, came He is three dimensional pornography,
Everybody needed money, there was an explanation of why he had dropped out of
no getting around that, but it seemed strange a fraternity when the hazing began, and why original eye candy, long and lean
that she needed fifteen dollars badly enough to Bill should not join one to begin with. striding through the park, shirt off,
settle for a sure ten and hope for the remaining “Life,” — that was just how aphorisms jeans slung low.
five to come later. She didn’t say anything began — “ is not a conveyor belt of shit. Just
about having a baby, or a dog, as the because you get dumped on doesn’t mean you
homeless were starting to do. She was thinner get to dump on the next guy who follows you. Every eye is a grabbing hand,
than she needed to be, but not emaciated. You don’t see me yelling at your mother when a penis probing orifices, every look
Ten dollars would buy a few I’ve had a bad day at work.” a deposit in his ego bank.
hamburgers, though. If that’s what she would
Sex with her, or with anybody, would
He was right. Bill hadn’t seen that, and
he didn’t pledge, or even rush.
“Please.” The next wave of tears pulsed
Look closely, but don’t touch
be the icing on a cake that did not exist. like blood from an artery. “I’m not worthless. I
“I’ll tell you what. You don’t have to do want to work.” After the poetry reading
Some buy from the corner of their eye, two old daddies lick their lips
that. Let’s say I just give you the ten dollars and She wasn’t a candidate for anything,
you go on your way.” either. She was a colleague. furtive and shameful. Others approach
in unison, hover around me,
Bill couldn’t imagine that kind of need, “I’ll be good. I’ll be real good.” She head on, hard on, demanding
at least not yet. It was even worth ten dollars to looked down at nothing in particular. “I’ll treat their fingers stroking gray beards,
relieve it, or have it out of sight. The five dollars you nice.” like the sound of moth wings
he saved could buy him a drink right now. He She faltered, as if she’d come to a gap
This line – mind fucks only.
slapping against a light bulb.
could use one. in a telemarketing script, as he had a few times
Her need broke into his accounting. in order to pay for the airfare and the hotel. But At home, they take his image to bed.
“I’m not a beggar. I want to earn my she recovered. Love it, caress it, rape it. One tells me about his wife and kids,
money.” She tried not to shake, but failed, “What’s your name?”
Dream of their humiliation, but he’s sodomizing me in his mind,
trembling as if she were being shaken, hard, There was nothing to gain by any other and the other, tall and rotund, takes
by an invisible hand. name he used; there was nothing at stake now. degradation, an unexplained lack
“Really. You don’t have to do this.” He He told the truth. of gratification at his fantasy hands. my picture for future masturbation,
couldn’t think of why not. People wanted to Knowing him, she took his hand. un-phased by the awkward silence,
work. Looking down still — the path must have been my unsubtle attempts to disengage.
He didn’t have to give her the money. familiar — she led him toward the intersection Then they drop his memory off
He could walk away, or outrun her if she of the loading dock, the Dumpster, and the at any avenue and drive away fast.
yelled. He wouldn’t look like the bad guy. He border of brush. Tomorrow it will be another, picked up For a split second, I think of being
wouldn’t even be the bad guy. Still, rejection The walk gave him time to think. He on a corner, a supermarket, a theatre, underneath them in the back of a van,
had already stained him once today, on the would have to ask the woman’s name; it would
receiving end. He didn’t want to stain himself be rude not to. a church. letting them ravish me for cash
again by spreading it out. He owed her at least that much. as I have done to boys half my age,
And he says every day it’s the same who did not want me, but wanted
hustle, this one-sided trade. to know what worship felt like, drunk
When does the money start to come? on need, the shameless, hungry crave.
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Hustling Last Visit to the Clermont
Bad hooker business sense, Spending New Year’s Eve drunk at the Clermont Lounge
should have collected the cash brings back memories of Ken eating a banana from the pussy
before he was gumming my cock, of a stripper old enough to be my grandmother.
his old man hands like Mars, red, raw
and cratered, moving over my lunar surface, She slid the fruit from between her legs deftly into his mouth
my perfect white landscape. and he sucked it extravagantly, juices running down his chin
making the sober gag, testing even the heartiest barfly’s resolve.
He lured me in with his picture, taken
some other decade when I might have paid him, Ken would put anything in his mouth, even me, when his
but this guy is nearly seventy and lonely. beer goggles were on tight. Like the serpent in Eden, he flicked
He warms me up with borderline kiddy porn his tongue at me: “Taste this.” And I, no fan of fruit, said
flashing across his computer, kneels arthritically,
joints cracking, pleasure oblivious to pain, “God may forgive you, but I won’t.”
while I stare straight ahead, watching
a parade of boy toys, think of them counting
dollars in their head while a leather daddy
makes them pussy.
I must be a disappointment to the bobble head
I see below me, I’m not innocent or dewy with lust.
I’m pushing thirty, my customer is pushing death,
and after I cum in his mouth and he jerks off
in my general direction, I can’t take the $200
he peels off a mountain of bills. I take $20 for gas, COLLIN KELLEY is an award-winning poet and playwright from Atlanta. He is the author of Slow
hand the rest back to his protests, kiss him To Burn (2006, Metro Mania Press), Better To Travel (2003), a spoken word album, HalfLife Crisis
(2004) and After The Poison (forthcoming this summer from Finishing Line Press). He is the recipient of a
on the forehead like my grandfather. Georgia Author of the Year Award and a nominee for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Lambda Literary
He waves from the door as I pull away, Award and the Pushcart Prize. Kelley’s poetry has appeared in many journals, including Terminus, In
Posse Review, Blue Fifth Review, New Delta Review, Chiron Review, poeticdiversity, The Pedestal, Lily,
wondering how I’ll pay the electric bill. Welter, SubtleTea and the anthologies, Red Light: Superheroes, Sluts & Saints (Arsenal Pulp Press) and
We Don’t Stop Here (The Private Press, UK). He is also co-editor of the award-winning Java Monkey
Speaks Anthology series (Poetry Atlanta Press) and The Thrill & The Hurting: Poems and Art Inspired by
the Music of Kate Bush (Morning Fog Press, UK). Kelley hosts the Internet podcast The Business of Words
at Leisure Talk Radio Network. For more information, visit www.collinkelley.blogspot.com.
16 MIPOESIAS 17 MIPOESIAS
P O E T R Y P O E T R Y
brian Sebastian janann
There She Lies
campbell I’d scarcely spoken my name
before he chose me from the lineup.
My first day, my first “date,”
I had no conversation for this man, white stranger
There she lies, carefree hair, airbrushed shoulders on his weight-machined with a German accent; only my hips
pecs, bottom right RALPH LAUREN ROMANCE. There she stands, empty knew what to say
hall, eyes closed, kimono open, flush left MISSONI. There she struts,
as we walked down that short red hall
cobblestone street, stiletto heeled, tight black leather, across the top to my room to discuss prices,
VERSACE. There she gazes, eyes of doe, skin vanilla, waxy lips, spread we two businesspeople, his smart suit
wide below MAYBELLINE.
and my black skirt ten inches from my knees.
His doughy chin and cheeks
brightened with laughter at the negotiations,
a formality. He picked me.
I knew his blue eye would match
the blue of his veins, lying beneath his skin
as I soon would, thin, translucent,
writhing with his pulse
as he gathered speed, quickening, quickening.
BRIAN CAMPBELL is the author of Guatemala and Other Poems (Window Press, Toronto, JANANN DAWKINS has written poetry for nearly twenty years. Her work has been featured
1994). His poetry has recently appeared in The Antigonish Review, The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, Nth most recently in mad swirl, Third Wednesday, Twilight Ending, The Louisville Review, and First Class;
Position and Dusie, among others. He was also a finalist in the 2006 CBC Literary Awards (Poetry). she also has work upcoming in Mississippi Crow. A graduate of Grinnell College with a B.A. in
Undressing the Night, his translation of selected poems of the Nicaraguan-Canadian poet Francisco American Studies, she now reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Santos, was recently published by Editorial Lunes, Costa Rica. He lives and teaches in Montreal. For more
info, visit www.briancampbell.org
18 MIPOESIAS 19 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - E R I K A M I K K A L O
I T WAS THE height of noon when all
enter the plaza including a young woman who
leaned against a lamp post. The lamp, for
virtues. The leather of the belt was red suede,
the buckle, matte gold tone. She smiled and
waved at the officers. One waved back.
some reason, malfunctioned and shone in “Smile for the cameras, sweetheart.”
broad daylight. At night the dew coagulated The city had installed surveillance cameras
on the rose granite panels and wept down the everywhere. She waved again. A cop
walls at dawn and the woman would be left to walked over.
ply her trade long before but was not adverse “You really should be moving on,” the
to broad daylight either and she knew them as cop said. The woman smiled and nodded, then
the same. The two cops knew that she was lowered her sunglasses and winked. The lid
careful, that she knew them, that she wouldn’t flickered down over her dead eye: it had a
do anything as long as they were there, so they glaze like gray over the yolk of a hard-boiled
pretty much ignored her. egg. The cop knew that her good eye was
by Erika Mikkalo “Tomorrow Ilena’s going to get picked hazel with flecks of gold. He wandered back
up,” one cop said. to his post.
“Of course.” “She’ll go home soon,” he said to his
“She seems happy.” colleague. “They’re not going to go for it. We
“That’s rare.” won’t be able to bust her. There’s no point in
“Yes.” hanging around.” They couldn’t threaten her for
“How do you know that it’s rare?” free head in the middle of the afternoon. Not
“She’s still at it.” unless they got her in a car. She knew this and
“That doesn’t mean anything.” smirked.
They stood apart near a bench that was The cop walked over to her and stuck
in the center of the square next to the fountain his hands deep in his pockets. He rocked back
and listened to the liquid spurting from the on his heels and gazed down over his gut at
center where small children circled daring one the top of her head.
another to run through the arcing spray. A boy “I told you that you should move on,” he
and his sitter sat on the edge. The water said to the prostitute. She cocked her head,
dampened his corduroy overalls. The sitter and shook it briefly. If she wanted to
flipped distractedly through a glossy magazine. communicate, she would take a notepad out of
“The kid will fall in,” the cop observed, her pocket. He didn’t know how she had
thinking of his own young son. become mute, or if she was born that way. A
“And then he’ll dry off.” child screamed with delight as a stream soaked
“If he doesn’t crack his head open. Or it. The woman shrugged, then traced an arc on
get a concussion. Or at least a split lip.” the paver between them with her shoe’s
ERIKA MIKKALO’S writing has received the Tobias Wolff Award for short fiction from The The woman leaning against the light pointed toe. The cop wandered back over to
Bellingham Review, and has appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, The 2nd Hand, post shifted. She wore a belt with a large heart- the other cop.
Exquisite Corpse, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Massachusetts shaped buckle. Subtlety was not among her “She’ll leave now,” he said.
Review, POM2, The Columbia Poetry Review, The Notre Dame Review, The Texas Review, and fence.
She lives and works in Chicago and holds a MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College. 21 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - E R I K A M I K K A L O S H O R T S T O R Y - E R I K A M I K K A L O
bright square bright square
“She leaves all the time.” “I don’t want to listen to her. Whenever knew Dirac said, his gaze returning to the kids waiting for his pal to say where they were
“Yeah, that’s what they get paid for, they pick her up, she tries to talk or yell, and it in the fountain. “There are always more of going for lunch. His pal was waiting to get an
right?” sounds like – I don’t know. A fish or something.” them. There are always more.” idea of what sounded good to him. The kids
“To go away.” The woman looked up at the pointlessly “They have habits, diseases, they’re were waiting to be taken out of the fountain,
“Among other things.” glowing lamp, then over at the cops. nuts,” the other cop said. dried off, fed ice cream. Ilena was somewhere
“Would you fuck her?” She waved again. “Shit, does she want “They have God.” waiting for the next customer. When they
“Well, she can suck cock.” to get arrested?” the one cop said to the other. “Oh, Jesus Christ,” the first cop laughed. busted her, the guys at the station would be
“Yeah, but would you fuck her?” “Should we?” “I’m serious.” waiting to book her. Her girlfriend would be
“She’s so ugly, I wouldn’t fuck her with “Nah,” the first replied. “Paperwork.” “Yeah, and so am I. You can see what waiting for her to get out. Then they would all
your dick.” The second grunted and nodded. their God gets them.” be waiting to do it again. A dropped ice
“Oh, you go on, now,” the other The woman stretched, and then “No. They’re closer to God than we cream cone melted on the hot granite. The
chuckled. wrapped her arm around the post and hugged are.” child wailed.
“Why does she keep doing it?” it. A vinyl bag was at her feet. It was red, too. “Everyone’s close to God. That’s the “Where do you want to go?” asked
“What else can any of them do?” The second cop took two steps towards point. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be God,” the the cop.
“She must have a story.” her. She nodded, and leaned over to pick up other cop said. “I want to wait,” the first said.
“They all have stories. Their stories are all the bag. She slung it over her shoulder, rocking “No. You said, ‘Jesus Christ.’ We know “No, it’s time to go,” the other said, and
that they have.” back despite the heels. It was amazing, how who he went with. We know who his people started walking across the square. “We can
“I want her to move along. She might as fast they could move in stilettos. There were were. We know that he’d be right there down wait more after lunch.”
well go to Burnside. It’s too hot for us to stand scuff marks on the bag and her shoes. The heels on Burnside.” “A steak,” said the cop. “A steak and
out here. It’s supposed to get up to eighty.” looked as if they could pierce the granite. The “It’s time to go have lunch.” fries.”
“She stands there. She cannot do cops watched her stride through the plaza, a “Yeah, we’re all the same,” the first cop “Are you nuts? In this weather?”
otherwise.” young woman aged too soon, all jagged said. “You eat. You shit. You stand around and “That’s what I want.” The water hissed
“She has people. Somewhere, maybe. bravado wrapped around a solid core. bullshit. You go home. You go to sleep. You and misted and gurgled as they strode off.
They all had mothers and fathers and little “Why didn’t you arrest her?” the second wake up and do it all over again. We stand “We’re going to have to come out of
brothers and sisters and friends. They were all cop asked. here. They suck cock. The kids play in the the air conditioning and back into this,” the
good kids.” “I don’t want to bother with the fountain.” A shriek peeled forth from the plaza’s second said.
“You don’t know that.” paperwork.” center on cue. A rainbow was visible in “I said that I wanted steak,” the first
“You don’t not know it.” “You’ll have to bother with it sooner or the mist. replied. A pound of flesh. Or half pound, then.
“For all you know, she’s always been later.” “It’s a city square like any other.” “All right, then,” the cop said and
alone. Abandoned somewhere. On a doorstep. “Or someone else will.” “But we’re here. We’re all in our own walked on. He liked the sameness. They would
At a church.” This was an uncomfortable “Yeah. Dirac will know where to find parks all over the world: that’s what makes go to the same restaurant they always did, the
conversation. Who cares where they came her.” each one important. The sameness is how we goldenrod vinyl seats at the booths, the
from? There were always more of them. “You sound like a lazy whore yourself.” understand one another. The stone, the elaborate amber glass salt and pepper shakers,
“No. She has a girlfriend. On SSI. They “What? Fuck you.” benches, the lamppost, the fountain, the trees, the silver wire cages for packets of sugar,
live over a laundromat.” “Oh, come on,” the first cop blustered. the square. The sameness is God.” artificial sweeteners in little envelopes – pink,
“Really?” “You don’t want to bother with taking her “I said that it’s time for lunch.” yellow, or blue. Maybe he wanted a steak,
“Yeah. They all have girlfriends or little downtown, either.” “Let’s go, then,” the first said. His fingers too. But then he would have to take anti-acid
boyfriends or whatever. They make their own “Yeah, you’re right,” the other cop said. flicked over the gear on his belt, landed for a tablets. He would belch the saltwater of blood
family.” “They’d only turn her right out again.” moment on his chest’s insignia. Serve and and vinegar ketchup tang and echo of bile into
“Some family.” “Yeah.” protect. A life in service. They also serve who the back of his throat. He would feel the
“No. It works. They choose one another. “You know it.” stand and wait. Everyone on the plaza was heaviness. That’s how it always happened.
They don’t get to choose much.” “Why do we bother?” the cop who waiting, but for what, he wasn’t sure. He was That’s how it would happen this time.
22 MIPOESIAS 23 MIPOESIAS
P O E T R Y P O E T R Y - D A V I D P E T R U Z E L L I
How It Started david how it started
Late at night the car from New Jersey
slowed alongside her, driver’s window down,
deep inside I called for quiet. What made me brave
was when I got one look:
she knew I followed her, and didn’t care.
Maybe when we went upstairs, I’d tell her
music playing low, a few notes hinting I was married. I could tell her anything
they hadn’t meant to come this far outside. of course, though just those simple words, “My wife,”
But when the light turned green, we both knew would make me harmless, normal, safe;
I’d changed my mind; that if I closed my eyes I could even talk about my sons—
days and nights would pass, and I’d forget her face. the boys I’ve yet to name. But upstairs
But one night I thought I recognized her, a woman would consult her watch, and start to dress,
one night, outside the hotel, she looked different: and everything would change…
like the first hour back from summer,
and seeing Barbara Stinelli or Donna Lux But at the bar, I caught something in her face
enter the 8th grade, and announce a quiet beauty. still there from when she looked inside my car,
Only this time I followed her inside: when she wondered if she could really be right.
the revolving door determined to lose her I only knew how sure I was, how certain
and send me home, the lobby lit like home, I could be: the room key weightless,
the concierge showing the way, the front desk no longer up ahead like Customs.
the bartender saving me a place. We’re going—the chairs beginning to empty
And by sitting down, I decided— and no one claiming them; the seat beside me
Something will happen; that here was a woman spinning, slowly, on its own;
in no hurry to smile, or leave. the bartender waving goodnight; we’re going…
But when other men began to notice her,
Then I stood and took my place among the missing.
DAVID PETRUZELLI’S first collection of poetry, Everyone Coming Toward You, won the Tupelo
Press Judge’s Prize and was published in 2005. New work appears in the current issues of
Brilliant Corners, Fairy Tale Review, Hunger Mountain, Poet Lore and Red Mountain Review. He lives in
New York City.
24 MIPOESIAS 25 MIPOESIAS
P O E T R Y P O E T R Y
Pin-Stripe Pant-Suit Sea-Whore: Call her tayve
It is a dog-eat-dog world –
Ben Franklins scribbled across the
Abalone, blisters of pearl,
yellow pad of temptation as
Eve swallows Adam’s poisonous apple your hands are heavy for luster
and fire jets from her crotch. bowls from mangrove hollowed by brine,
People will stare as she angular lines of dried corals
smolders from under
her pin-stripe pant-suit; Your eye, captive by caverns
of nautilus, tip of conch you keep
She will always smell of
burnt paper what is scalloped, swirled,
and walk like a twisted paperclip. hard memory emptied of muscle.
At night she lets down her hair Hinges pivot bivalves
and removes her daily crisp; ridged mollusk, razor clam,
she slides her hands between her legs
their edges making click-clicks,
finding her Eden; gaped and parting, like your lips.
that garden of wealth, knowledge, power;
that garden of lush salvation.
MONTGOMERY MAXTON is a poet, photographer, and activist. He serves as artistic editor TAYVE NEESE has published poetry in Fourteen Hills and has essays and a book review
and webdesigner of Limp Wrist Magazine. He lives in New York City and Columbus, Ohio. appearing in WeddelSol’s Review of books. She also has work forthcoming in The Comstock Review.
26 MIPOESIAS 27 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - G E E R A U S T I
I ’M LEANING against the wall at the
back of the room, staring at the ceiling and
wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of
hard enough.” I never tell them about the four-
year scholarship to Sarah Lawrence. They like
to feel superior.
my life, when some guy sidles up to me. Sometimes they ask what a nice boy like
“You look like a philosopher, standing me is doing in a place like this, but Jack doesn’t
there like that,” he says. go there. If he did I’d walk away from him.
“Yeah, just call me Kierkegaard,” I say. It’s nobody’s damn business, but the truth is I
He’s not the best looking guy who ever had to work my way through college and
came my way, but he isn’t fat, he isn’t bald hustling paid better than working retail. After I
and he doesn’t stink. He’s my general type, graduated I landed an entry-level position at an
swarthy, about forty-five, solidly built. I smile at art book publishing company where they
by Geer Austin him, and he tells me his name is Jack. I tell him
my name is Sean, which is true.
expected me to do shit work for peanuts. So I
quit and went back to the work I know best.
“How old are you?” he asks. Jack looks me up and down and down
“I’m legal,” I say. “Twenty-two going on and up. “You’re just my type,” he says. “Blond
twenty-three.” hair, blue eyes, tight ass.”
He gives me a fifty-dollar bill and sends “Gee, thanks,” I say. I turn around, flash
me to the bar. That’s the way they test you. him the rear view, then turn back and laugh.
They want to see whether you will run out onto His eyes have gone all soft, and he’s
the street with their money and cop some drugs breathing through his mouth. “Are you
or whether you will come back to them. I available tonight, Sean?” he asks.
always bring them their drinks and give them That’s what I love about the hustler bar.
the change, just to see their reaction. There’s not a lot of small talk.
“Hey, you can keep that,” Jack says. I lean forward and kiss him on the
He drops the money into my shirt pocket, and I cheek.
fish it out and stuff it deep into one of his pants “What do you say we go to my place?”
pockets. It’s all part of my routine. They “You live around here?”
usually start to get hard as soon as my hand “Up in the East 80s. But I have a car.”
dips into their pocket. Jack is no exception. He has cool wheels — I have to hand
I like you,” he says. “Kind of preppie him that — a vintage plum-colored Mercedes
but rough down below.” Benz in perfect condition. He opens the
I’m wearing a blue button-down shirt, passenger side door for me, and we drive
beat-up jeans with holes in strategic places and uptown. He lives in one of those buildings with
old cowboy boots. a garage in the basement. You call the
“That’s me,” I say. “Preppie but ragged. elevator by punching a code on a keypad,
”I’m Irish Catholic. From Queens.” then ride right up to the apartment. It’s a two-
“You don’t have the accent.” bedroom job, not palatial like some I’ve seen,
GEER AUSTIN’S fiction and poetry has appeared in Big Bridge, Colere, Harrington Gay Men’s “Hey, you can lose any accent if you try but it looks all the way downtown over the
Literary Quarterly, and Potomac Review, among others. He lives in northern Manhattan.
S H O R T S T O R Y - G E E R A U S T I N S H O R T S T O R Y - G E E R A U S T I N
lost on the lido lost on the lido
rooftops. Paintings cover every inch of wall dinners, to the movies, the ballet, a play and staring at me talking to the art dealer. We Jack asks for a better room, but our room
space, but the furniture is modern and plain. even the opera. After about a month, he offers barely finish dessert before he comes running is the last vacancy in the hotel.
He gets some beers and then puts Miles to pay my rent, and I say okay. I still go back to over to my table, drapes himself across the Our first night, we eat dinner in a
Davis on the stereo. We sit down on the the bar for a reality check every once in a while back of my chair. He stays like that until the restaurant in a garden, somewhere back away
couch. “Should we talk money first?” he asks. and go home with some crude jerk for party is over. from the thickest part of the crowd. It’s a pretty
“Hey, just being here with you is great.” comparison’s sake, but basically I’m with Jack. Later on, I gave him a primo blowjob. place with ivy growing up the garden walls
I smile a big smile. You have to work to make He’s an art dealer. He works out of his After he comes, he says something under his and linen tablecloths and waiters who know
some of them relax before sex, or they never apartment. He sells the pictures right off his breath that sounds like, “I love you,” but I can’t their jobs. The food is tasty, and we have
get around to it. walls. The first time he takes me to an art quite make out the words. some red wine which puts us in a good mood.
“You’re such a sweet boy.” opening, he runs into about a hundred people While I sleep, I dream of my father, who After dinner, we walk shoulder to shoulder
Oh, if he only knew, I think. Not that he knows. We hang around the gallery until I haven’t talked to in years and years, though through the city, window-shopping and
I’m an ax murderer or anything. closing time. The people like us who have he lives only a few blocks from my apartment in sightseeing in the dark.
He leans toward me, slides his arm invitations to the party afterward pretend that Queens. In the dream, he’s staring at me like Around midnight we happen upon the
around my back and plants a kiss on me that nothing special is going on, and the ones the man at the art party. I want to run away Rialto, and we climb up the old stone stairs
starts out slow but builds into something big without invitations, hungry looking people who but I can’t move. toward a group of handsome Italian guys
and hot. For a moment I forget he’s a trick. want in on the scene, wait to see if they can When I wake up, light filters through the loitering at the top of the bridge. They turn as
Maybe it’s the mood I’m in or maybe it’s the ride on our coattails. We dart away from them blinds at Jack’s bedroom window. I sit up and a group and stare down the steps at me as
music. When he pulls his face away, he says, when the gallery closes and head over to the watch Jack sleep. His face is creased with red though they want to grab me and fuck me, and
“Kind of Blue, like you, right?” party. Inside the restaurant, people look for lines, and his black hair sticks out at odd I half wish they would. When we reach the
I put my hand over his crotch and tug at place cards on the tables. Jack finds his name angles. I guess he dyes his hair, or at his age top, Jack takes my arm and pulls me over to the
his zipper. on a card at the artist’s table, but I can’t find he would have some gray. marble balustrade, and we look up the Grand
He undresses me in the bedroom, mine. He flags down a waiter and asks him After ten minutes or so, he opens Canal. A gondola full of fat Americans
appraising my body like merchandise. “You’re where I’m supposed to sit. his eyes. dressed in ugly clothes slides under the bridge,
beautiful,” he says after he pulls the last stitch of “He must be over there.” The waiter “What are you doing?” he asks. and I promise myself I will never set foot in a
clothing off me. points toward a table in the far corner of the “Just thinking.” gondola.
They always say that. room. “I’m going to Venice in a couple of Back in our pink hotel, Jack jumps on
I’m freezing, so I get under the covers. My card is neatly printed with the words, weeks,” he says. Can you go? I’ll pay, of me, and I let him screw me. When he’s inside
He strips off his clothes and leaps into bed. “Jack Lamberti’s Friend.” course.” me, he folds my legs back and kisses me while
They never want you to see their old bodies, “I’ll get you moved closer,” Jack says. “Don’t mind if I do,” I say. He would we fuck. He’s a great kisser and a considerate
but I like the way they look. “I’m fine here,” I say, and I sit down. miss me too much if I let him go alone. fucker, like I said, not one of those battering
“Do you mind getting fucked?” He Jack goes back to his table. I think about going abroad for the first rams. After he comes, he says, “I love
touches my ass. To my left is a gray-haired, gray-suited time and all the Italian guys who must be you,”and this time I hear the words clearly.
“Go right ahead,” I say. man. He introduces himself first and then his waiting for me in Italy. Sure I would be with But I never take anything anyone says before,
He puts on a condom, and he rims me wife who sits across the table from us and keeps Jack, but maybe I could slip away and get a during or immediately after sex seriously. At
for a while, and then kisses me again before he her eye on him. I can tell that deep down little something on the side when he’s chatting least he isn’t one of those guys who rolls off
slides it in. I think he’s sweet. A lot of guys inside he wishes he were married to me instead up some rich people about buying art or taking and looks at you as if you just dropped in
pounce on you and jam it in like nobody’s of to her, and I guess she knows it too. He a nap or something. from Mars.
business. Jack dips into me tenderly, and stares owns a gallery in Chelsea, and we talk about In Venice, we stay in San Marco in a Then he wraps his arms around me, and
down at me while he strokes in and out. I stare that for a while. Then I tell him the G-rated rose-colored hotel overlooking the water. we sleep like that. I dream about my father
back at first, then shut my eyes and enjoy version of my childhood in Queens, and you Although the hotel fronts on the lagoon, our again, and I wake up and think about him
myself. would think it’s the most fascinating story he has room overlooks a narrow canal. The room is forcing me to have sex with him after my mother
Over the next several weeks, we see ever heard. He hardly takes his eyes off me. I tiny, and it’s furnished with two single beds. died when I was fourteen. The crazy thing was
quite a lot of each other. He buys me some feel sorry for the wife, but what can I do? When I first see it, I say, “This must be I liked getting fucked by Dad. That’s what
clothes, a nice watch, and he takes me out for Jack keeps jerking his head around and the closet, right?” makes it so bad with all the others. None of
30 MIPOESIAS 31 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - G E E R A U S T I N S H O R T S T O R Y - G E E R A U S T I N
lost on the lido lost on the lido
them ever loves me as much as he did. But he while? You’ve got your tongue hanging out of he has deliberately left me behind, riding the been put on earth just to make me feel as if
disinherited me when I went to Sarah your mouth so far it’s practically touching the bus to who-knows-where. everything is going to turn out all right. They
Lawrence, and to this day he pretends he ground.” Jack, I yell, and I run after the bus. I’m ask where I am from and I say New York.
doesn’t know me when we cross paths. I “Well, maybe I look back every once in carrying the bag that holds our bathing suits They say they love New York.
should hate him, but I don’t. He’s pissed a while, but I’m with you, and I’m not going and towels, and for that reason I think he might Eventually we reach the last stop and I
because he wanted me to go to a Catholic anywhere.” eventually get off the bus, even if he is pissed bounce off the bus with my two new friends.
college. He’s couldn’t accept that I would turn “I wouldn’t advise it,” he says. “You’re a off at me. I start running faster trying to keep They point out the place where I can catch
my back on the church. long way from home.” up, but the bus disappears from sight with Jack another bus to the end of the island, and then
In the morning, the cargo ships blast “I know the story,” I say. “You don’t still inside. they stroll off in the opposite direction, leaving
their horns out on the lagoon and the have to tell me.” He’s acting like a typical guy The sun’s shining, but it isn’t an overly me alone. There aren’t any other tourists at the
gondoliers shout to one another on the canal. I from the hustler bar, and it pisses me off. I hot day, and there aren’t any other pedestrians bus stop, and I feel conspicuous in my T-shirt
go into the tiny bathroom and turn on the tap in make up my mind to ditch him and take the around. For the first time in several days I’m and shorts. When the bus arrives I jump
the shower. That’s when I discover the shower consequences. “What makes you think you can alone, and it feels good for a minute. I walk a aboard without even a glance at the machine
curtain gusts straight out from the stall when you tell me what to do?” I mutter. Jack looks pissed couple of miles wondering how I will ever find everyone else thrusts their tickets into. There
take a shower. By the time I finish, the off but he doesn’t say anything. Jack. Then I happen upon two deeply tanned, aren’t any seats so I stand holding a pole. The
bathroom is drenched. I make a lot of sarcastic I want to take one of the zippy water blond, curly-haired teenaged girls standing at a bus travels some distance along a stretch of
comments to Jack about Italian plumbing, and taxis to the beach, but Jack insists on going in a bus stop speaking what sounds like British road that parallels the lagoon. Sunlight dances
he kind of laughs, but then he reminds me that waterbus. Vaporettos, they call them. Inside, English. on the surface of the water, and a few sailboats
he is of Italian descent. it’s crowded and hot, but the view of the pale “Excuse me,” I say. “I got off my bus by flit over wavelets. On shore, there are rows of
After breakfast, we stroll outdoors among blue-green waters of the lagoon refreshes my mistake, and I’m wondering how far it is to the palm trees and masses of flowerbeds. It’s a
the crowds of tourists. Whenever we go into a eyes. On the other side, the Lido turns out to end of the line.” pretty sight, and I find myself wishing Jack were
church or palace, we get stuck in the middle of be an ordinary town with roads instead of “Oh, miles and miles,” one of the girls there to share it.
the tour groups that bash up against each other canals. Jack shows me what it looks like on a says. She has pretty blue eyes, and she smiles In the back of the bus, a few elderly
like armies at war. We flee to San Marco map, kind of like Far Rockaway, narrow and in a friendly way. women sit laughing and shouting to each other
Square, the huge space at the heart of Venice, long. I want to walk across the width of the “I was so happy when I heard you in Italian. Teenaged Italians and middle-aged
and there we encounter more tourists island to where I imagine the beach would be, speaking English,” I say, and they both grin. Italians are spread evenly across the rest of the
photographing each other while they feed the but Jack rushes to buy bus tickets, and we “Our mother is English,” the older one bus. Eventually, most of the elderly women rise
pigeons. board a bus. Right away I get wedged in says. “But we live here.” and walk gingerly to the front of the bus, while
“Let’s go over to the Lido,” Jack says. between the big butts of an old woman and an They seem so friendly and helpful that I it’s still in motion. They call noisily over their
“What’s that?” I ask. even older man. I feel as if I’m suffocating. almost feel like I have run into a couple of long- shoulders to an especially portly gray-haired
“The beach across the lagoon from San “Let’s get off at the next stop,” I say lost cousins. “I wonder if you could help me,” I woman who has remained seated. She holds
Marco.” to Jack. say. “I’m completely lost.” out her arms as though she wanted them to
We throw our bathing suits and a There’s a door near us at the back of the “Well, where are you going?” help her, but they just laugh and gesture at her.
couple of skimpy little towels from the hotel into bus, but Jack says in Italy you have to leave the “I don’t know. I got separated from my She screams laughter, stands up, and stretching
a bag. In the hotel lobby, the desk clerk gives bus at the front. He’s the law-abiding, rule- friend. I think we were going to the end of the out her arms, she steps toward where I’m
me the once over, and I stare back. following type. But I’m an outlaw. When the line. I guess I should get back on the bus and hanging onto the pole. I reach out to her, and
“It makes me unbelievably bus stops and the doors swing open, I jump see if I find him along the way.” she grabs my hands. The driver hits the brakes,
uncomfortable,” Jack says once we are out on through the rear entrance onto the street and A bus pulls up to the curb. and the old lady and I polka together toward
the quay, “when practically every man here watch people exiting the front. I expect Jack to “Just get on this bus with us.” the front of the bus. Everyone on the bus bursts
stares at you like he wants to fuck you.” get out with them, but the doors snap shut, and “Where do I get a ticket?” out laughing. Even I start laughing. Everyone
“It’s the blond thing,” I say. “Opposites the bus pulls out from the curb and travels up “Don’t worry about that. They never shouts in Italian, and I feel as if I am in a
attract.” the broad and flat boulevard with him still check here.” movie.
“Aren’t any of them straight? And do inside. I watch as it makes two more stops, but We climb aboard the bus, and they At the end of the line, I leave the bus,
you think you could look at me every once in a Jack doesn’t get out at either one. It seems as if continue speaking to me as though they have and head down a road toward where I hope
32 MIPOESIAS 33 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - G E E R A U S T I N S H O R T S T O R Y - G E E R A U S T I N
lost on the lido lost on the lido
to find a beach and perhaps Jack. After five the rear bumper, and one man gets in the car the waterbus dock. I buy a ticket for San anyone before you. And since I’m not used to
minutes walking, I come to a fork in the road and the one who had spoken to me crouches Marco. While I wait for the boat, I look being with someone I like, I don’t know how
where there is a sign that reads “Golf down on the sand beside me. One of his around for Jack, but he is nowhere to be seen to act. Those old guys from the bar — they’re
Course”with an arrow pointing down one hands casually pats my ass, and he looks into among the hordes of tourists at the station. a joke — even though I’m into older guys. I
tributary road. I take the other tributary road. It my eyes and smiles for a couple of moments I decide I don’t deserve to know someone as never took any of them seriously.”
comes to a dead end at the shore. I climb over before he leans his shoulder into the car. I nice as Jack, and I wonder how long it will “And me?”
dunes to a wide expanse of yellowish sand usually like attention, but I find him annoying, take for him to replace me. “Out on the Lido when I was totally lost,
covered with soda bottles, pieces of Styrofoam, and I turn my head away from him. The man Back at the hotel, I take off my shoes I realized that you make me feel good about
bits of faded rope, car tires, shards of plastic in the car guns the engine. The wheels dig and lay down on the bed. Pretty soon I hear myself and all the other assholes in the world
and pieces of driftwood, picking my way further down below the surface of the beach a key in the door and Jack comes in. When make me feel like shit.”
through the refuse to the edge of the water. It’s and sand sprays all over my bare legs. he sees me, he says, “Jesus!” and he starts “Well I care about you.”
a deeper blue than the lagoon and extends to “I’m sorry,” I say, and I pick up my rummaging through his suitcase. I wonder if “I guess I’m looking for a father figure
the horizon. bag. “This baby’s not going to move. Forget he’s checking to see if I stole something. or something. Is that fucked up?”
I plop down on the dirty sand and think about it.” “Are you pissed at me?” I ask. He grabs me and starts kissing me, and
about poor Jack and how he brought me on an “Stay, young man,” the man who patted “What do you think?” we end up having the best sex ever on the
all-expenses-paid trip to Italy, and how I had my butt says. He smacks his lips together in a “I think you probably are, and I don’t floor between the two little beds. When we
spent the whole time drooling over Italian men. couple of fast kissing moments. blame you. It was stupid of me to jump out finish, we take a shower together in the tiny
I think about how Jack fucks me and treats me “Yeah, kiss my ass,” I say. In that the back door of the bus like that. I wouldn’t bathroom, then get dressed and go back to
right, and for the first time, sex seems okay, not moment, I decide I’ve had it with hustling. I’m have done it if I didn’t think you would the garden restaurant where we ate our
something dirty or mean. With Dad, it had going to give it up, and be faithful to Jack. I’ll follow me.” first meal in Venice. He asks me what I
been good, but to be honest, getting fucked by even get a job so he doesn’t think I’m into him “Why should I follow you?” majored in at Sarah Lawrence, and when I
your father is weird shit. It hits me that I like just for the money. “Yeah, well, we’re kind of together, tell him art history, he says maybe I can work
Jack a lot better than I’ve admitted to myself. Back on the road, I catch a bus and find aren’t we?” with him in the art business, but before he
He isn’t just another old guy. He treats me a seat at the back. After a few minutes, a “Are we Sean?” makes any promises he has to talk to his
right, and I would hate to lose him. Sitting on pudgy little man carrying a Vuitton clutch “I thought so.” accountant.
the beach by myself, I blush with approaches me and says something in Italian. “Most of the time you don’t act like After dinner, we wander around the
embarrassment over the thoughtless way I’ve I think he is some old queen trying to pick me we’re together. So I thought we were apart. city, and we happen upon the Rialto again.
been acting, and then almost shake with fear at up, and I look away. He speaks to another You over there, and me over here. That’s the This time, as we ascend the steps I slip my arm
the thought that I might have blown it with him. passenger who produces a bus ticket that the way you like it, right?” around his waist, and he puts his arm around
I get up and walk back toward the road Vuitton man examines, and I realize he is the “When I was eighteen, I came home my shoulders, and when we get to the top, we
that leads away from the beach, and as I ticket checker. I reach into my pocket and give from my first semester at Sarah Lawrence—” turn toward each other and kiss passionately
approach the dunes, I hear someone shouting. the Vuitton man the ticket Jack bought me, and “You went to Sarah Lawrence?” which I’m sure will be talked about back in
I look toward the voice. Two handsome the Vuitton man raises one eyebrow when he “Yeah, I had a four-year scholarship. Iowa, or wherever, by all the tourists who are
middle-aged Italian men stand on the sand next sees it, then tears it and hands it back to me, The kids there were so snotty I missed Queens sitting on their fat asses in the gondolas gliding
to a little car that seems to be stuck. One of muttering something in Italian. like crazy. I went home for Thanksgiving to down the Grand Canal. When we finally pull
the men gestures for me to approach them, and “I’m sorry,” I say. “I got lost and I don’t see my father, but he wouldn’t let me in the apart, I say to Jack, “Venice is the best place,
I jog over to them. He begins jabbering in speak Italian, and I didn’t know where to buy house. He used to fuck me when I was in don’t you think?” He nods his head and looks
Italian. another ticket. Can I buy one from you?” high school, and I don’t think he could forgive into my eyes, and I want to shout loud enough
“I’m sorry. I don’t speak Italian,” I say. But he shakes his head and moves on. me for leaving him for college.” for all the tourists to hear, loud like a sonic
“Oh, an English boy,” he says in a It’s like getting nabbed by a cop who decides “That’s horrible. He should be boom in my father’s ears back in Queens, NY,
heavy Italian accent. not to arrest you. Not that I haven’t been in jail locked up!” “Look at me you holier-than-thou shits. Look at
He points at the car. It’s buried halfway once or twice. Sooner or later everyone in my “I know that now, but back then I Jack and me! We’re in love.” Because Jack
up its hubcaps in sand. He makes a lifting line of work spends time inside. thought I liked it when he fucked me. But and I really are happy together, standing on
gesture. I drop my bag and put my shoulder to Miraculously the bus takes me back to today I realized I never really liked being with that bridge on the other side of the world.
34 MIPOESIAS 35 MIPOESIAS
P O E T R Y P O E T R Y
Two Letters in Memory of an God’s Little Helper alan
Aborted Lap Dance
four a.m., 14 years old
my face glowing from t.v.
projections of busty bikini babes
with slender waist lines
$1.99 per minute, one of them said, inspiration made a greasy palm
(if that is truly your name)
her sumptuous lips wrapped around a warm, slippery shaft lots
William Carlos Williams the head of a blow pop of moaning before I hung up
is not undiscovered by waking parents
the poet laureate testosterones led an air strike on
of Oregon my cerebrum, vapors spread like one-time thing became every-
mushroom clouds over my crotch day after school, a $600 phone bill,
Did you really go to Antioch? an angry mom and dad waiting
Really study linguistics?
left hand snatched phone, right for an explanation
Do you actually
one dialed then grabbed the hand-
love Neruda and cummings?
brake in my underwear they didn’t believe I thought
II. these women needed Jesus, that
sweet voice asked, how you want me? I was a prophet of Christ himself,
To my lovely I told her on all fours, a feline arch sent to deliver them
bleached blonde at her lower back one by one
good luck with yr hustle
sorry to have
wasted yr time
CHRISTOPHER LUNA is a poet and collage artist with an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied ALAN KING’S fiction and poems have appeared in the Arabesques Review, Warpland, The
Poetics. He hosts a monthly open-mike poetry reading in Vancouver, WA. His collaborations with musicians have been Amistad, and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS, among others. A
broadcast on Dr. Demento and Vin Scelsa’s “Idiot’s Delight.” Luna’s poetry has appeared in The Lion Speaks: An Cave Canem fellow and Vona Alum, his work was also part of Anacostia Exposed, a collaborative
Anthology for Hurricane Katrina, eye-rhyme, Exquisite Corpse, and the @tached document. Chapbooks include tributes
and ruminations, Sketches for a Paranoid Picture Book on Memory, and On the Beam (with David Madgalene). Luna is exhibit with Irish photographer Mervyn Smyth that showcases the life and energy of Anacostia.
the author of Literal Motion, featuring three interviews with filmmaker Stan Brakhage (Bootstrap Productions,
36 MIPOESIAS 37 MIPOESIAS
P O E T R Y P O E T R Y
A Meeting With God ellen Someday franz
Thank goodness you’ve come, God says and ushers me through the
velvet-curtained doorway. It’s as if we’re in an adult video store on our
way to the hard-core section –all the good stuff will be back there --
and for a moment I imagine him tearing off my clothes, slamming me
in memory of Jon Anderson
Slept awhile and drove around
in the silver sad November
to the wall and asking do you like it. light that causes everything
to look like places in the past.
But no, he shows me to an office, devoid of color. Files, rows and
rows of metal drawers line up flush with the infinite walls. A river rock Hour of prayer, hour
presses a stack of papers on his desk. All the elements are of the first snow, this text
represented: a water cooler burps in the corner. A ceiling fan mixes
that has suffered so much
air. Beside his chair, the mouth of a small furnace flashes fire.
in transmission, this body
He takes a seat behind his desk, folds hands and looks at me saw its friend Annie
expectantly. I see myself reflected in his eyes, upside-down and tiny. I carrying the cross of her insanity
know that within my reflection is his reflection, mirrors into mirrors, back
and back for eternity. I wonder if I ever reach origin will I see an down Main Street in the silver sun: I
explosion of light or an absence? was trying to pray, I was trying to talk
on the phone to a girl with no clothes on and trying
The silence in the room runs long. I thought I’d come so he could very hard to listen
rescue me from my inner tedium but now I realize he thinks it’s I who
will rescue him. As understanding filters to my spinal column, the to the tolling of the hour
blood pumping to my brain is audible. In this room, I complete the which no one else can hear, and then
elemental picture: I am alive, a representation. the tolling
everyone will hear but me—
Excuse me, I say, backing away from the desk. I beg your pardon.
ELLEN KOMBIYIL wrote her first poem when she was eight years old. It was called Mr. Moon, Mr. Moon and FRANZ WRIGHT was born in Vienna in 1953 and grew up in the Northwest, the Midwest, and
she carried it folded in the pocket of her jean jacket until the ink smeared and the paper wore thin. It seemed to arise Northern California. His most recent works include The Beforelife; Ill Lit: Selected and New Poems;
out of a mix of her thoughts and the rhythm of her body, walking home from school. Originally from Syracuse, New Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in April 2004; and God’s Silence.
York, she graduated with a degree in English from The University of Chicago, where she was awarded Special Honors His latest collection is 2007’s Earlier Poems. He is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts
for her thesis project, a chapbook of poems. Her poetry has recently appeared in Sojourn, 2river, Eclectica, and grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Fellowship, and the PEN/Voelcker Prize, among other
Contemporary Haibun. In addition, she was the Featured Poet for The Hiss Quarterly’s April 2007 issue. She honors. He works at the Edinburg Center for Mental Health and the Center for Grieving Children and
currently lives in India with her husband and two children. Teenagers. Wright lives in Waltham, Massachusetts with his wife, Elizabeth.
38 MIPOESIAS 39 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - C I N D Y K E L L Y
I F RED CAN LOOK desperate, that’s the
color of the circles I drew in the help wanted
section of The Lantern. Then I called them all,
did not look like any theatre or studio I had
ever seen. It was brick, very institutional
looking, and the PR had fallen off the front so
choosing the best-sounding ones first. It that it said OFESSIONAL BUILDING. They
seemed most of the ads were sketchy at best. were big rusty metal letters, a generic sans
The legitimate employers required credit serif, hanging as if pasted directly on the
screenings I would never pass or a full-time building with Elmer’s School Glue. I almost
commitment I could not juggle with classes. I turned my car around without knocking on the
wondered if flexible schedule meant whatever door, but I needed a job.
odd hours in the middle of the night. I felt I had already tried everything else. I
cheated, that these were the only opportunities unloaded trucks at UPS. I sold dancewear in
to choose from. strip clubs on commission. I worked at Jo-Ann
Two positions were commission only. E.T.C. I cashiered football Saturdays at Long’s
Three of the numbers were answered by a Bookstore. I tried freelance design work. At
recording that explained where to send money some point, though, all my past employers had
for my training materials. The majority of the been unwilling to work around my class
rest were already filled. The last one schedule. I was getting a little bit disillusioned
by Cindy Kelly connected me to a recorded female voice that
asked me to leave a message with my name
with the companies that advertised in The
Lantern. In my opinion, if they advertised in a
and number. When I was finished, the same college paper, targeting college students, then
voice explained that she would call me back they should work around college.
for a face-to-face interview if she thought I was When I opened the door to the
right for the job. building, the smell of Carpet Fresh, Febreeze
I reexamined the ad. Call for Actresses. and mothballs was overwhelming. Randi
All shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities. Full or Part greeted me and said I’d get used to it in a
Time, Close to Campus. Creativity a must! voice that told me I didn’t want to smell
I wondered how they could judge my acting whatever those three things were trying to
skills based on my name and phone number. cover up.
I was still staring at the ad when I got my I followed her through a great maze of
callback. It was a woman named Randi, and little rooms no bigger than closets. They all
though I could tell she was older than me, she had a small desk, chairs, and a phone. The
sounded very young. She asked me if I was walls ranged from beat up paneling to retro
speaking in my natural voice. I told her I was. wallpaper to sloppy bright paint. I felt like I
She asked me if I had any experience acting, was in the middle of a Carrollian nightmare.
so I rattled off some roles I had done in my I had no idea whether I would get this job or
acting classes. She invited me for an interview. if I even wanted it. We finally reached a
I do not know what I was expecting, but large room.
CINDY KELLY lives in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with her himalayan cat, Ursala the building matching the address she gave me This must have been the center of the
Miner. She is the editor of Plain Spoke, the quarterly literary publication of Amsterdam Press. Her
work has recently appeared in Steel City Review and Panamowa. 41 MIPOESIAS
S H O R T S T O R Y - C I N D Y K E L L Y S H O R T S T O R Y - C I N D Y K E L L Y
the brief existence of lainey o’galeigh the brief existence of lainey o’galeigh
complex. The room was nice, or at least much The “coeds,” which is what Randi called the imperfection gave her something to talk about, spoke in a vernacular ghetto dialect until the
nicer than what I’d seen so far. There were girls who worked for her, were not supposed to and it also made her a little more real and a phone rang. Then she spoke perfect Valley Girl
more rooms off through another door opposite have any knowledge about each other outside little less transparent than some of the other until she hung up. I liked her. She was actually
the one I came from, and there was a lot of work or even know each other’s real names. girls. The story we were supposed to tell the cool. But she had to quit because one of her
muffled screaming and noise coming from that Randi said it was less confusing that way. callers was that all the girls lived together in a neighbors’ Bull Mastiffs got out of the dog ring
direction. A large man sat at a huge desk in I found out later that most of the girls knew house in Columbus, Ohio, and we opened our during a fight and shredded her right thigh
the middle of the room. He was editing everything about each other. own phone sex company to pay our college instead of the other guy’s dog. When guys
some kind of footage on his computer and Mercy pulled out a list. I hated all of expenses. It was supposed to be a picturesque would call for Lindy after that, I’d tell them she
he immediately turned it off when we the names on it. Most of them ended with -ey sorority house with girls in tee shirts and panties went to study abroad. Lainey got a lot of new
approached him. or -i or -y, and sounded as if they were coated playing with teddy bears and having twenty regulars that way.
He stuck out his unusually dry, small with sugar: Candy, Mandy, Billie, Joanie. boyfriends each. The truth was that these Shelly was a crack head, and she quit
chubby hand like he wanted me to shake it. Either that, or they were totally oxymoronic. women looked nothing like the descriptions they two months after I started because she had to
I don’t normally shake hands. I don’t like to Like “Mercy” was. I could have been Chastity gave their callers, and nobody would ever go on the lam. She was going to be arrested
touch people. But because this man might be or something. I could not decide, so she want to live in the OFESSIONAL BUILDING. for prostituting her daughter to her ex-husband’s
a potential employer, I complied. He was three selected one for me. That is how Lainey But I knew what it took to create an illusion, friends.
ups and downs and then an almost-suggestive was born. and I used it to garner some regular callers. I Cherry was sixty years old and her
squeeze with a wink. I hate that kind of thing, I shouldn’t say born. She wasn’t real. got paid thirty-five cents per minute Lainey spent voice had a tinge of whiskey and cigarettes.
but I smiled and sat down where he gestured. She was more invented than anything. And if on the telephone, and Lainey knew how to talk. To me, that’s very sexy. But not in a woman.
Randi sat next to me. the mother of invention is Necessity, then After about a week, I was totally The routine was: go to work, answer
There were questions. How comfortable Lainey’s father was Desperation. I needed comfortable. I could do my homework while calls, do homework. I avoided the other girls
was I with my sexuality? Did I like to talk about money for books, tuition, everything because I listened and talked. I wasn’t completely for a while because their stories kind of scared
sex? Would I read aloud for them both from a I had lost my financial aid. I was given this desensitized, but I knew that it would stop me. I did become friends with Allie, but she
how-to-talk-dirty book? shell of a character, and I saw it as an bothering me eventually. It was a little quit a month after Shelly did because she hated
Then we got to the listening portion opportunity. I filled in all Lainey’s details with disturbing that I had to hear the verbal version everyone but me.
of my interview. They watched my reactions. exaggerated versions of my own experiences. of these men in their most intimate moments, but Allie’s real name was Natali. Her
A girl named Mercy was talking to a rather She was Black Irish like me. I gave her the I reminded myself of the thirty-five cents per nickname around the way was Nastily because
excited man on line three. I listened to her Celtic version of my last name. Kelly came minute and the ten minute minimum call, and she had a pretty nasty reputation. She actually
describe the process of wrapping his rocks up from O’Galeigh. smiled because not many of them lasted that had done all of the things she talked about on
in pink organza and tying a bow around them. Lainey-short-for-Elaine-O’Galeigh. I had long. The longer calls were mostly older men the phones.
He apparently loved that part. He thanked her given her a name and a pedigree. But the or gay guys who wanted to have a Natali told me I would burn out on
and hung up. I listened to several of these calls most important thing about Lainey was her conversation. I couldn’t help but pity all of being a fantasy phone operator. She gave me
over the next hour, and then Randi asked me if physical description. And the most important them for their loneliness. four months. I lasted five. I got through two
I still wanted to work there. By then I realized thing about that was the little brown mole just The hardest part of the job was getting quarters of school, got my financial aid back,
they only cared that I had the right voice and under her ear on the left side of her neck. along with the other girls. Mary, a fat woman and got out. I went on break one night,
enough talent to pull off this fakery. I had had one in the same spot but I had it cut in her forties who always wore pink and had stamped out my cigarette, and instead of
Randi led me out the other door, through off when I was thirteen. I was embarrassed by rosacea all over her face, made me cookies for walking back in, I got in my car and went
several more rooms, and down onto the main it. My grandmother called it a beauty mark. my birthday, which made me sick. I found out home. It’s not the kind of job anyone would
floor of the back side of the building. The I thought it was ugly. In this parallel life, my later from Allie that Mary always did that to really give a two-week notice. It’s not the kind
woman at the desk smiled and introduced alter ego Lainey would have kept hers because new girls because she saw them as of job I would put on a resume. Randi is not
herself as Mercy. I smiled and wondered if she she would have thought it was sexy. I wanted competition. Allie was the only girl who ever the kind of person I would use for a reference.
knew I’d been listening in on her calls. I felt to make her different from the other girls smiled. She told me to watch out, that working Natali was the only person besides me
like I was being rude, but Randi had told me somehow, to separate her from them and there was like going back to Jr. High. It was. at Lainey’s funeral. We took all the stuff I didn’t
not to introduce myself until I had a new name. through her, me from them. This minor Lindy was a young, black girl and she leave behind down to the Park of Roses: all of
42 MIPOESIAS 43 MIPOESIAS
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the brief existence of lainey o’galeigh
my call sheets and my notebooks, my fan mail Her voice was something we couldn’t burn.
addressed to our “suite” at the mail store, and On occasion I’ll hear a man talking in the mall
my pay stubs. We burned it all in a grill by and I’ll be sure it’s one of those guys out
one of the pavilions. The snow was up past shopping with their wives. We used to call
our ankles. We stood in the cold and watched them Jacks. We couldn’t burn them either.
the flames throw Lainey’s ashes to the wind. I still know their kinks. I know their secrets.
When she smoldered, we covered the cinders I remember their names. Or Lainey does. I try
with snow and walked away silent, our cheeks to keep us separate, but sometimes I still look up
red with frostbite. when I hear someone say, “Lainey.” From time
Sometimes when I answer the phone, I to time I catch myself rubbing the place where
catch myself using the voice. It’s not intentional. my mole was, where hers was too, just to make
It just became routine, and occasionally I slip. sure it’s still smooth from the scar.