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July 6, 2016 Poetry

Four Poems

Shayla Lawson

Four Poems photo


After we kiss, I wear an apron, a pronoun / I ruffle
you sweet pancakes. I paint
your nails light blue. I witness the dimples
that wink in your eyes when your head
bands. We duet
your favorite Aretha Franklin
record.  I always return
to the end: to the dream
sequence. I don’t want you
to love me.  The Ocean’s
still not ready.  Maybe Lonny was

a fantasy you had of being a boy, like Pinocchio
in reverse.  That shit always does
me in: the way he blushes
at the puckered face of a pretty girl—
some fat bastard pulling the strings. You beam

in the lederhosen of your first
performance. You warble
like a towhee down a flight
of stairs.  I know the spotlight
is only a fairy tale, but I wish
I could love you more R&B-ly.  I’ll never be
your everything. I’m much better
in the Tinkerbell.  I dote.  I drink / all the ale
so you don’t become an ass
at the billiards table. I’m no good with gauze

wings, but I get you
as close to the grain as you care to
go.  I kiss you & the curtain falls. Somehow, we both
escape the encore.

Swim Good

My father never learned to swim
good enough to keep from drowning.
The beach was a battle I knew
he’d lose; the way he’d flail at the loam
when the tide rolled in.  There is nothing
more hard than to watch a grown man
punch his fists through the ocean;

I watched my daddy drown
every day.  I would count
the silence between his submission
& his bathwater, his face under
the faucet, his sips too long
from his morning coffee. My father
tried to swim from something—

at the very lungs. The mention of water
bigger than I
could understand.  How it nestled him
deaf of me. How he must have
felt: the chest in conversation
with the EKG tethering his heart
to the suit that remained / of him. Diving

bell. Every time he submerged, I would chorus
in the undercurrent.  I’d take my hearts
to the trunk of a Town Car, (Don’t
die. Don’t die
.) like an offering. I’d drive
to the surf of his favorite coast. I’d look
for a man kicking sand back
in the tide—there is nothing more hard

than to see / a grown man draw his fists
at the ocean.  In the solace
of a car’s hull, I’d let out the sunroof,
scream open-throated: let the rain in.

Super Rich Kids

      —after Earl Sweatshirt

Too many toasties cut in quarters for Subway.
Too many indemnity claims at Allstate.
The sky clocking ‘round too much;
Half-dollars just ain’t down enough.
Too many key-bored schemes of my odd future;
Remixes of thwarted love toned grapheme-synesthesia.
Super rich kids string laces from loose ends;
Super rich kid with marginal dividends.

Too many sheep dreams when I electric blog.
Too many ‘keeping up’ with every Jones they saw.
But I’m treading waves because;
The stars shine; my eyes tear up.
I’ve written ubiquitous vocalists one-thousand trackses.
The best advice that I ever got was, ‘Pay your taxes.’
Super rich kid with superfluous dividends.
Super rich kid stringing laces from loose ends.


You want to know when
am I going to write a story

about you. I tell you
when I know the kind of ink

you can handle. The next script
you imbed on your chest

should be mine. I tell the tattoo
man to inscribe my name

under the barbed wire fading
behind your rolled-up t-shirt.

I can only take you in
in pieces—the way I cover

my eyes when a love wants
to look at me—a mandala

a dagger, a handful
of stars. I think of you

in pen & ink & the color
intensifies. Like the strings

I hear quartet as the needle bands
your heart; a fugue

of Aztec chevron we both
know you’ll soon regret. You soften

your free hand through the temple
of your hair and my feelings

cut deeper than the barbed wire
I clung to as a kid, all the weight

resting on my largest
wrist.  I couldn’t look at a window

through a window.  I needed proof
the sky extended beyond

the gauges. Where the fence braids
the freckles of my then-

thin arm, you can still scratch out.
I clung / on—even when the scars bled.

image: Chelsea Martin