Painting by Seon-Jeong Kim
Pick Up Lines
“Oh, so you’re a writer? How interesting.” The boy says,
licks his lips, tries to imagine
what his name might look like in my bedroom;
what his love might look like in my handwriting.
I don’t tell him I write poetry.
I want to tell him I write murder mysteries;
that I will write him dripping against the 52nd floor window,
a closed-door murder and all the newspapers know his name—
and this is because
it isn’t what he wants.
He tells me I’d look good on the backseat of his motorcycle,
but better under his hips;
wrapped up so tightly in his sheets
that I’d never leave,
and oh, he can’t wait until I read him my work in the morning,
how it’d go great with the excuse he’ll leave
for never calling back
when I don’t write the right words.
I’m from New Jersey, So I Kind of Like Chemicals
The smell of my uncle’s shed, gasoline and mineral spirits.
My father’s stockpile of lime lawn treatment.
It made our grass dayglow in prom photos.
I rely on mousse and hairspray,
with my hair cropped short, pomade
molding paste, Rough Luxury.
I crave Comet and stain sticks.
Disposable cleansing wipes for:
porcelain sinks, my face and lower orifices.
I collect bottles of Softsoap, but offer
guests grapefruit scented hand foam,
sparkling water infused with citric acid.
I use three different kinds of mouthwash.
As a kid, cinnamon flavored Lavoris
made me break out in hives.
My brother hated mint.
All the kid stuff was bubblegum.
Antifreeze brings me security.
Mudslides, daiquiris, and wine coolers piqued
my interest when listening-in to adult conversations
as did test tube shots at block parties.
Realizing now how much of it was grain alcohol,
an Old Fashioned made with Old English
for a family whose blood hums with machines.
The Reel World
If I could,
I would rewind my life.
I would go back through all
the plot twists and turns
if only to be able to relive
that one beautiful moment:
The single scene to ensure your name
in the credits
even if I knew
in God’s cutting room
the outcome of the film
wouldn’t rely on its existence