After the Kiss
    how much I like it—
    starting the day this way.
    Telephone Evolution
    In the old days (Mom says)
    it would just ring and ring and ring,
    callers counting
    twenty, twenty-one,
(he could be
    just now running in from outside)
    before giving up.
    Next came answering machines
    (we still have an ancient one for the telemarketers)
    that allowed for screening—
    deciding whether or not
    to pretend to be out.
    Now there is the cell phone:
    more immediate, less discreet—
    I can tell, for example, after two rings and a click
    that for the first time
    he has seen my number, hit IGNORE.
    The Coffee (Heart) Break
    After the superspeedway
    of Sunday morning doughnut drive,
    coffee chaos,
    and tablewipe tumbling
    there is a small lull
    â€”a pause.
    I can sip
    my own coffee—break
    my own doughnut into small pieces to savor.
    This is the time
    â€”Freya knows—
    someone can come by
    and I can do more
    than wave at her like a drowned girl.
    She can come
    â€”fifteen minutes before the after-church lunchers—
    and I can sit
    on the patio with her a minute,
    ask about last night.
    It is enough time even
    for her to show me her phone
    â€”the photos she took last night at the Lake House—
    and ruin my life
    With Apologies to WCW
    so much depends upon
    the red (handed) cameraphone photo
    glazed with pain
    (of him) standing beside
    (with his mouth all over)
    the (creamy) white chick
    At first a column of heat
    â€”a lava charge—
    bursts up from the tail end of my spine and
    up to the top of my skull
    â€”fills my eyes—
    so that for a moment I can’t see and all I feel is
    But it is the last thing I will feel—this fever wind—
    because after that I am ice:
    a white tundra of unmoving blank:
    a glacier only very slightly drifting
    â€”unaware of its own motion—
    across a dark and frozen sea.
    Freya’s face is a fist,
    her frustration a force
    unfurled and frenzied—lashing
    against the redhead, my boyfriend,
    the entire (cheating) world.
    Coming from her each hate-filled word falls—
    one poisonously sour grape after the next,
    leaving a miserable, permanent stain
    on everything touched.
    Island of Relief
    After Freya leaves, the sorrow is a tidal wave,
    pounding me so hard it is difficult to see
    â€”strident tide smashing
    everything in sight.
    I am a drowned girl:
    lungs grabbing dark water,
    filling with—[seeking]—the source that will
    silence and bury.
    A pale hand plunges—grabs—
    and insists: rise.
    I am a gasping, sputtering face,
    looking for a life raft.
    Nadia is calm, cool, solid—
    an ivory island.
    In her comforting concern I will rest and think,
    gulp for air,
    try to breathe again.
    Helpful Advice
    Janayah’s left alone at the counter
    and I will get in trouble,
    but I don’t care I
    can’t breathe after all.
    Back in the kitchen Nadia
    holds me by the scruff of the neck,
    helping me stand,
    cleaning me up.
    I know it hurts,
Nadia says calmly,
    but if he cheats, it’s over.
    Maybe not over for you
    but over for him
    and in that case it is just
    over for you both.
    Over like the last pizza crust.
    Over like hitting E with forty miles
    to the next fill-up.
    Over like a blackout.
    Over like an execution.
    Her face is still a new doll to me—something
    to admire but not yet fully know.
    But her voice is serious as the grave:
    concrete, set and poured.
    Break it off,
she tells me,
    sounding like some Old Testament Bible verse
    about a right hand and its offense.
    You have no choice,
she says.
    This girl usually so full of sunshine,
    now black clouds sweep across her brow.
    Against her finality my heart thuds, once.
    But around it my soul echoes empty,
    her words careening back and forth and back,
    ringing like truths.
    And Yet the Boss Wants Me to Smile
    My body is
    scarecrow scraps of hay held together
    by unshed tears.
    My voice
    a strangled

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