When That Guy Said That Thing That Made Me Want to Fly Out of My Skin
It wasn’t until I walked away
and heard what he said to
the pretty, European woman
when my back was turned
that I set floating a simple wish
on a ripped sheet of loose leaf,
rolled into an empty Faygo bottle,
bobbing along the river that’s always flowing through my consciousness:
I want to lift my fingers
to the back of my neck
and find a garment tag hanging there
like the clasp of a necklace or a small, metal zipper
on a suit you’d wear to a Ziggy Stardust show.
To tug at the small, metal zipper,
and undress myself
of my flesh
and my station.
I could have asked
the pretty, European woman
to help me with the zipper,
squirm the wiggle that
prompts a yank, tricky zipper,
hard down the middle of my back
or just struggle through myself …
until the trash he took me for
lay in a discarded heap on the library floor.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.
— Dorothy Parker
Is it true my loves have been more like hostages than men?
Here, this recipe calls for a quarter cup of pain:
How many eggs have cracked
Against the metal lips of mirrored
Bowls, splash of
Liquid: milk, oil, water,
Pinches, the sequestered
Powder, gloves to sheath the tender
Palm, instruments of mixture
Deafen, and flour
Dusts the spanking spoon —
I pace like a caged feline.
As yoke into batter comprises a sweet
So too my heart rises up in heat.
& Here’s the smart-ass, clogging bath drains with petals
& She-he’s interrupting wifely husbands
& The Virginian lunging at me to think fast
& The mime practicing her silent scream
& Here’s a love who sent me twirling, among the moon-bright tombstones,
The corners of our mouths yanked upwards … Loves,
did you feel bound when my sight found you fair?
Snow, the size of thumbprints, diagonally descends.
Do the Fates constrict our naked hands?
This recipe says to funnel
Love through us — the human monster!
Damaged! are we? Come now, my hostage!
The sloppy slices of my heart have yet to serve,
If I Ordered the Chili Instead of the Cheeseburger
In a parallel plot,
my doppelganger throws back
like a sister with a rotten tooth.
I am the exact opposite of her.
She slides her naked spine down a wet wall declaring, “Death or drugs!”
If I snuck in one sip, eventually she and I’d end back up
our tag team of scramble-eye liars, kicking our tantrum hunger.
Good thing I ordered the cheeseburger instead of the chili.
They say that the Man Upstairs knows our every move
before we make it, but my guess is
it’s the little decisions
that navigate our actions
like talking with waitress for a few minutes
while she rang up my bill
about how tasty the pickles on the cheeseburger were.
Sweet and crisp, like her smile
stalling for a second
before I brave again
my life, out there, on the road-kill roads,
where it must be more than luck
that gets us home.
Andy Warhol rides shotgun.
Do everything is his advice to me
dragged out in his monotone hush.
A spinning digital circle continues to spin.
My mind becomes a net,
All of a sudden
Andy Warhol and I experience a visual assault:
“I am a Person”
words on a van
followed by enlarged images plastered on the doors of the van
of fetus pieces:
fetus head, fetus arms, fetus legs
in various stages of abortion.
Andy eggs me on
to home in on the van
with the enlarged images
of fetuses in various stages of abortion
and the large words painted on a piece of flattened cardboard
secured to the van’s back windows, “I am a Person.”
We know the driver’s a dude before we know the driver’s a dude.
Andy seems excited, but it’s hard to tell.
He breathes more than says, wow …
Mid-autumn sun crystallizes this overpass until our landscape can almost be seen.
He says, distance yourself as if through a lens
really, really low,
Erin Knowles Chapman has been writing poems for over 20 years. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University as well as a MLS from Wayne State University. She works as a Reference Librarian and leads “Soul-Centered Journaling” workshops at Boston Tea Room in Ferndale. She’s participated in and organized spoken word performances in the various places she’s lived throughout the years, like Charlottesville, VA and St. Louis, MO. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, under @air_ink. She currently lives in Wyandotte with her husband, toddler, pit bull and two elderly cats.