Jill Talbot


Oven buzzer wails, and I paint my toenails black, slick like

crude, dangerous. To hell with waiting around,

setting timers to ultimatums, pie crusts that never

cook in the center.  Gripping cells,  mistaking numbers

of missed calls and mail boxes full of damage

in Visa Gold, rent owed, nothing paid.

A fuck me color.

I’ll wear all over campus, class, back to the office,

into a glass drip gin, dare boys in baseball caps to drop in.

Black bra, black lace, shadow licked across eyelids.

Lipstick on nipples, every curve to cunt

a flutter, my mascara brush like eighth notes. Brim, shake

over edge like no-cream coffee from plastic cup covers.

Slip a black thong up my ass, shift with each step,

black to the knee boots. You got it, I’ve had it, begging

to get paid, get laid, dime at a time, and I’m broke,

spent, there’s nothing left

to scream at the machine. I’m black tight,

taut, black phone on my right, no rings,

black hole of a chance you’ll change.

Afternoon in July

I had never held on to an idea longer,

the long hair of a man across my arms

the tangle of his limbs in sheets

of such a blue I’d want to weep into them,

fold them up, and throw them away when I think of it.

When I think of the morning

we skipped rocks in the rain, the river passing us

like a bus we had just missed.  You said

we spoke like passengers stranded

at a terminal, both of us waiting

in cities we had never seen.

I haven’t seen you since that day at South Fork,

when the rain let up and the sun reminded us of people

beyond your front porch, when you forced yourself

to drive at least twenty towns down the road,

and I snuck back to the empty bench in your front yard,

the middle of the night wishing for your fingers.

The sky blue with finished storms,

and pieces of our afternoon rain

still hanging from the branches like lighted candles.

Jill Talbot is the author of Loaded:  Women and Addiction (Seal Press 2007), as well as the co-editor of The Art of Friction:  Where (Non) Fictions Come Together (University of Texas Press 2008).  Her poems have appeared in Notre Dame Review and Blue Mesa Review.

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