December 5, 2008

and although the sex was free
it killed all of my dreams

William Eggleston, untitled, 1960s

Telephone Conversation
-- by Wole Soyinka

The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. "Madam," I warned,
"I hate a wasted journey--I am African."
Silence. Silenced transmission of
Pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled
Cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was foully.
"HOW DARK?" . . . I had not misheard . . . "ARE YOU LIGHT
OR VERY DARK?" Button B, Button A.* Stench
Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
Red booth. Red pillar box. Red double-tiered
Omnibus squelching tar. It was real! Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfounded to beg simplification.
Considerate she was, varying the emphasis--
"ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?" Revelation came.
"You mean--like plain or milk chocolate?"
Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted,
I chose. "West African sepia"--and as afterthought,
"Down in my passport." Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness clanged her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece. "WHAT'S THAT?" conceding
"DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS." "Like brunette."
"THAT'S DARK, ISN'T IT?" "Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but, madam, you should see
The rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blond. Friction, caused--
Foolishly, madam--by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black--One moment, madam!"--sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears--"Madam," I pleaded, "wouldn't you rather
See for yourself?"

What I didn't say when the gasworks shook their iron tails
in my direction

-- by Rebecca Loudon

There is a foot-shaped stain on the end of my mattress like Sibelius snapping a white tablecloth across the Baltic Sea inviting me to tea. Night Dog thumps his body against my door. I’ve cut my hair to fiery nubs my angel hair my blonde angel cluttersuit. I eat a bowl of marrow beans and pound my feet but too many hours in the swamp prying goathead burrs from my heel awakened more than triage more than language my caliche nerve. I don’t know how to do it. I stand on my hind legs and bark. I want more. I want more. I want more.

That Girl
-- by Richard Brautigan

A girl
with French teeth
and dandelions
in her hair
a black sportscar
beside me
on the street
and says,
Get in.
Where are
we going?
I ask.
To my place,
she answers.
We drive
through the tunnel
and go
all the way out
to 1,000,000th

Her apartment
is nice.
There are
original Klees
and Picassos
on the walls.
She has
a thousand books
and a Hi-Fi set.
I would
make love
to you,
she says,
but I have
in my vagina.
We drink
from little cups
and she reads
to me
in French.
She is
very beautiful
but the dandelions
are starting
to wilt
in her hair.


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