wear the skins of old lovers
musing with new ghosts
Chi is sitting on the hood of his car and aiming his coffee cup at a small patch of grass that sprouts up in the middle of the crumbling parking lot. The empty cup soars over my head but lands by a curb in the opposite direction.
“I resent my parents for giving me books as a child instead of baseballs and a catcher’s mitt,” he says. “I think those skills would have benefited me better than the capability to recite Shakespeare at the top of my head.” He jaggedly throws his voice above me as opposed to the smoothness in which he threw the cup.
I lean back against the front bumper. The car is still warm even though we’ve been parked here long enough to finish our cheap dollar coffees. “I don’t think so,” I tell Chi as I jab my index finger through the hole of my plastic lid. “Men with strong tongues are more valuable to girls than guys with strong arms.” The plastic tears – popping and punctuating my statement, jolting me forward a bit. I slowly wiggle my finger all the way through the hole, but Chi isn’t paying attention to much.
“Most girls haven’t studied literature the way we have, Annie.”
I toss my lid over by his cup and clasp my body in bare, goose-bumping arms, and I walk to the edge of the parking lot.
It’s springtime in Iowa. And I’m in the middle of a nowhere parking lot under nothing stars with a nobody poet who can’t eat poetry. I’m not talking his beloved Shakespeare, Collins or Keats. I’m not even talking Bukowski, who you regurgitate during drunken nights in your apartment bathroom. I mean poetry. Naked human poetic vibrations that you can touch, kiss, lick, even fuck if you’d like.
Count the jackhammer syllables in my chest---onetwothree, onetwothree.
But all that comes to Chi’s mind when he thinks of poetry is rhyme and meter. Sonnets and sestinas. He keeps a pocket dictionary in his jacket at all times. He says free verse degrades poetry.
I turn back towards the car.
We were destined since the vulnerable age of fifteen to always be crossing paths at inopportune moments, never getting to cross our t’s together. Tonight, it’s now or never. There is a reason he used his muddy loafers to knock on my door one disheartening January night when he arrived on campus a year after I did. There has to be a reason that he said, “Thank god I finally found you in this god-forsaken farm town. I was about to blow my brains back to Detroit.”
He lies with the windshield as a pillow. His feet pulled up, knees bent in the air.
“I want poetry,” I say.
“All right. What do you want to hear?”
“All right. What do you want to hear?”
“A brand new composition by Chi Woodlow.”
I crawl onto the hood next to him, wondering if the thin manmade metal could support two-hundred pounds of earthy flesh. He allows me to touch him briefly---I’ve brush up against his shoulder, passing it off as an accident.
“Okay. After I drop you off, I’ll write something.”
He gestures in the air as if he’s writing, and I pull his hands down to his sides. “I want to hear a poem now. You don’t need your desk and pencils. Those don’t make you a poet.”
Chi grunts and rolls onto his side, away from me. Crickets keep time until he finally rolls back towards the sky and opens his mouth to speak. My heart is a balloon, and he’s struck it with his sharp – but not strong – tongue.
“I’ll write something when I get home,” he repeats.
I roll over onto my own side with deflated latex melding with my bones. The wind carries my mind away, but he’s a chain link fence that I always end up stuck on.
A piper who taunts
(con)sensual verse---So I
follow, but can’t read.
About Sirenna Blas:
Sirenna Blas’ short story “Maps & Men” was published in the 2011 winter edition of Rose & Thorn Journal, and her poem “The Hours between Our Feet” was recently chosen to appear in Burning Word this July. She has won first place in humorous and satirical poetry, and second in short story for Purdue University Calumet’s Stark-Tinkham writing contest. She is a freelance nonfiction writer, as well as a peer tutor at Purdue Calumet’s Writing Center. She sometimes moonlights as a fast food employee.