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Self-Invention, or, Torch Song for a One-Night Stand

I wish I was an anti-type, but, I’m dull, I’m over

hyped.  Today,

I am a kite that’s landed

in a ditch.  About last night…Last night I was a trite

ex-lover, desperate for the bait

& switch, & onto every trick, & every trick

could sing!  & in your voice.  Last night

I sucked down whiskeys

with an ex, (he was never my first

choice) he showed me ‘round

his place, his girl was out of town.  I’ve never glimpsed

her face, but last night I saw her

shoes—fifty, sixty

pairs, (I tripped on her pink panties

on the stairs) zebra stripes & strappy

gold, lucite like bold crystal, diamond studded

ankle clasps.  I used to be

that girl.  At least, I tried.  Charcoal eyed

& used, voice a husky rasp, cigarette

in hand.  I was a ruse, a one-night stand that lingered

for three years, stiletto clad day

tripper, I plucked men like souvenirs.  Did that girl

picture me?  Sometimes I try to reinvent her still, some nights

she comes to call, she still exists: she ran one finger down

my ex’s pulsing wrist, she winked out from the skinny

lengthwise mirror in that fitting room’s hot stall—that fitting

room, that afternoon, the night that changed

it all.  Go back with me, let’s stand in that

department store—white walls & silver

hooks.  Alone, hung over from the night

before (some Irish bar, the ex, he kissed me open

mouthed when he wished me good-night) stark

naked but for hot pink cotton briefs—the flaws,

the flaws!  The hips that jut, the little gut, their murder

of clean lines, that brown spot like a penny

on my flank.  Anyway, I could meander, maybe hiss


to you the story of the swank

hotel in London, (she snuck off with the night

clerk to an empty suite worth each of its four stars, & what

about the time behind the hostel’s front

desk, off the Champ de Mars) but no.  Follow me,

let’s slip that weightless

sheath straight up & over my dark head (ignore the bead

of salty sweat that creeps between my braless

tiny breasts, ignore the doe-eyed dread) now I’m another

girl.  The one you love to hate.  She’s out too late.

Gold tasseled earrings brushing her bare

shoulders, smoky eyes that smolder, she just

eye fucked your boyfriend from across the bar, You know

she’d probably go down on him in the backseat

of the car, I’ve heard that, or maybe he was driving,

tequila bottle clamped between his knees, I heard

she aims to please…The dress fit like a glove.  I slipped it off

& thought about my husband.  Then I thought

about my love—as distant as a hero

in the wars (that night, I’d fuck my best friend’s

younger brother on her childhood bedroom floor, kiss him

quickly when he dropped me at my door, crawl

into my bed & clutch my husband while he snored) I thought

I am Penelope, weaving poems while I wait,

spinning idle lines about my mother, but all I see

is your face at the gate…



My ex puts on some

vinyl, (60s soul) we clink our drinks, I wish

he was another, I don’t know what he thinks, I’ve been

loving you too long… his hand is on my wrist, I take

it back.  I head home unkissed—outside, the world

is laid with bridal white, a blizzard

whirls.  I want to be (you think

I am) that girl.

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