The Poetry Brothel by Jessica Mehta

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The Poetry Brothel

Last night I was a whore
at the seedy poetry brothel
where men and women bought
my time with poker chips. In return,
I took their arms or hands, led them
to back rooms and read them my words—
split open my insides stuffed with you—
over candles that smelled
of strange flowers. My waist-
length hair kept tucked under the black
bob wig, my toes gone numb in too-
expensive shoes, and you
watched from the bar. I was never good

at flirting with women. Not much
better with men. But I think
it would have been easier
(I would have been easier)
to let them needle and nose
between my legs
rather than give up the words
I birthed for you, flying loose
between my teeth. It was an affair
of the dirtiest kind, the first
cheat where the guilt stuck hard.

Jessica Mehta

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet and novelist. She’s the author of six collections of poetry including the forthcoming Savagery , the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo as well as the novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded numerous poet-in-residencies posts, including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in Poetry. She is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at