In a Relationship

I offered you a piece without knowing that it was from my flesh
you knew though,
remember how you said that you’d take it as long it didn’t stain your coat.
It was winter the first time,
and your coat was black so the red didn’t even show up much.

In the 1940’s when the gentleman takes off his hat
pulling out the chair,
the lady sits down.
That’s what we’re supposed to do.  But my etiquettes are slightly rowdy.
I can’t sit as my leg hurts, plus I’m missing a piece of my flesh.
It’s not my best look, the blood dripping everywhere
leaving a blatant waste on the floor.

You threw away your coat, not really though,
it’s in storage in a box of it’s own.
You said it stinks too much.
So I picked out a brown leather jacket for you,
as red and brown are complementing colors.

My leg still aches quite assuredly.


So we’re at it again: only talking
about sex like we’re having it.
One day you’re going to have
to say what happened
last September that changed
everything. Sarah mentioned
the police and you’ve talked about
lawyers and therapy,
but now, it’s sex. You tell me
you want to pull my hair and lick
my teeth, ask how I’d react
if you entered me from behind.
I reply, Come, probably,
and you’re unsatisfied
and I know that feeling
all too well. You say, Good
night, because it’s late and
you have to see Dr. So-and-so
in the morning. Plus,
the Ambien’s kicking in.
You’d taken it that time
you told me there were
chopped up strippers in
the mattresses at Hooters
Hotel & Casino. My feet
hurt and I can feel
the blisters on my heels.
I wore new shoes
all day because I thought
I’d run into you.


alone in a cab after a party.
I can tell you’re not surprised
by the way you reply, Cool,
after I say, I drank so much
rum. It tasted too sweet.
I bought it because there was
a billboard outside the liquor store
that said, “Change is Refreshing.”
I ask how you’re doing hoping
you’ll talk more and you say,
You know those days when
listening to your favorite
Springsteen song won’t make
it better, and I’m like, Those are
my everydays. I want
to take it back. The cab driver
gets lost and drops me off
six blocks from my house.
You haven’t said a thing.
I send you the only lyrics I can
remember: I swear I’ll drive
all night just to buy you some
juice. You say, It’s shoes, not juice,
and I think that makes more sense.

A Conversation with Ann Beattie and Michael Silverblatt

Final Exam

Complete the following thought:

You should leave __________ more often.

A) it alone
B) me alone
C) [ your hometown here ]

Start naked.  Orgy of wrong answers.
Everybody watching.  Yes
puts a hand on your knee
& you forget to flinch.

You can pass a test without being handed a pencil.

You can choose your own undoing
or let the machine do it.

Execute the following proof:

If you hear every train fleeing at night, then _______.
If you don’t have time to count them, then ________.
If your hope grows ugly in her old age, then

it’s best to admit you’re tired.
Hoboken is only a word.
Vonnegut is only a word.
None of the stars are running
to or from anywhere but your eyes.

Treat every person you meet
like a stranger.  It’s pleasant to speak
openly with you.
  Always the first
time you’ve met.

What do you think of me?
(seven words or less)

we’ll never go to Europe

because I don’t trust you not to ruin France,
not to wring all yellow light out of the tall grass & collect it
in a jar until it looks like piss.  we won’t mash grapes
with our hammer toes.  we won’t prune the vines
or our skin in a river with a name older than any branch
of my family tree.  you aren’t family.  never blood
enough to feel pulsing through me in the tar
black behind my eyes.  I don’t not dream you anymore.
but I can’t see us there, no blurry frisson or hayloft
kiss.  I will never kiss you, you Napoleonic
War.  I forget you constantly, forget our boring
history.  I forget it more with every stinging drink.


Give him your keys
on a long chain.  Isn’t it a carnival
now with this door ajar?  Grease the wheels
with a whisper: you can have her.  See how
he shudders to life at the thought.  Watch him
volunteer your favorite bar with the crushed ice mint juleps.
Hope some doors remain closed.  Maybe she likes vodka,
leaves early.  Maybe she is strange enough: necessary, forgettable.
Don’t you wish you’d found her first?  Lover like a trick
picture.  Gone if you look too long.  Devil may care if you set him free,
so set him free.  Is he still your man if he’s tender, lips grazing
another woman’s neck?  Isn’t a carnival the perfect place to lose
him: pitched from your car into The Tunnel of Love, no doors in or out
of the sweet shadow, no locks to pick in a panic, just electrified track
and a tinny song repeating and the grab bar with metal slides like bullets
pinning you into this cold cage, spinning you sick, but safe?

Sales Quotient

Some people know
how to get under your skin

without permission.  Sometimes
it is appropriate to attack your prospect.

Putting bandages on a prospect’s hurt
is a big part of your job.  Getting emotionally involved helps

you close the sale.  The most important part
of your personality during a selling

situation is your intellect.  If you are careful,
personal growth can be painless.  Only

you can control your destiny.  You have to
be in the right place at the right time.