Author: Lauren Yates

Lauren Yates is a San Diego transplant who is currently based in Philadelphia. Her writing has appeared in XOJane, FRiGG, Melusine, and The Bakery. Lauren is also a poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly. Aside from poetry, she enjoys belly dancing, baking quiche, and pontificating on the merits of tentacle erotica. For more information, visit http://laurentyates.com.

Pity Party Bingo

The partygoers trade their misfortunes like handwritten
recipes bound in a spiral notebook. They sit at card
tables in a room that has seen a lot of Jello in its
lifetime. Childish Gambino plays from the speakers.

“No live shows, cause I can’t find sponsors/For the only
black kid at a Sufjan concert.”
A bottle blonde hipster
asks why he would even notice. Says she doesn’t see
color. That we are all the same. When all the chairs

are taken none of the men stand. Say they’d never
get up for a man. “No homo,” coughs one boy. The girls
say this isn’t what they asked for. In the corner,
Neal Schweiber says he won school treasurer, but
didn’t even run. One girl shakes dandruff onto the

table cloth. Says being shy now is like being a woman
was in the 60s. The boy in tight jeans says he hates
fashion and doesn’t know how to dance. On the bingo

cards, we all have to mark what we are—queer, shy,
woman, non-white—to see who earns the most pity
points. The ethnically ambiguous boy asks why the
middle says, “free.” Everyone knows that in bingo,

we all get a free space. A chance to start off on
equal footing. “What is an oppression that we all
know?” The host crosses out “free” and writes “alive.”

Quarter-Life Crisis

I relate to Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. It reminds me of
my psychiatrist calling me a joy to work with. Never mind.

Remembering the date of people’s birthdays used to be half the fun.
They have an app for that now. Never mind.

I chant my name over and over until it loses meaning.
He used to call me by that string of letters. Him-who? Never mind.

Always misbehave. Always a physical act of the body.
No-time brain. Let it go. Much less. Let alone. Never mind.

They make “Gunshots Before Twats” t-shirts and rate films “X”
for breastfeeding, as if kids can’t pull down their…never mind.

Ultimatum

She—an unrepeated motif—waxes precocious, not unlike her ancient self. Never mind the counterfeit eccentrics: strange enough to be noticed, not enough to be doomed. Their imperfection simply inconvenient. She’d give her life for them. They don’t realize omniscience is boring, they’re only inspired through relapse. In preschool, she learned people are mean for no reason, so she gave away her quarters at bake sale. Her mother would say, “That money is yours.” The girl would ask, adjusting her overalls, “If it’s mine, can’t I decide what to do with it?” In the future, when repeating this story to that other motif, she’d know he’s “The One” when he’d say, “What do four-year-olds need to know about capitalism? Yet thanks to Walt Disney, they learn conformity and following your heart aren’t at odds.” She’d notice his ring, wish she were twenty-six, find a comfortable chair in purgatory: trapped between what should be and what is. As long as she’s sitting, she may as well start smoking. It’s a fine day for oral fixation. It doesn’t matter if her lungs bleed. It’s not like she smokes the same brand as the counterfeit eccentrics. She’d wonder if in a past life she was a dusty vacuum cleaner, covered in what she was meant to destroy. It’s too easy to claim hypocrisy. Too easy to cry genius for discovering what works when for so long, there was nowhere else to go. She hasn’t been happy since she was thirteen, the day before her first existential crisis. Her mother said, “Stop being so melodramatic.” She said, “I’m not too young for a mid-life crisis. I just won’t live to see thirty.” She owes her life to a fear of hell, knows we all experience it differently. Hers is a banquet. The proceeds will be donated toward ending world hunger. At the end of the night, the keynote speaker complains that Alfredo sauce doesn’t reheat well, so the leftovers get thrown out.