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Amy Elizabeth Bishop

Rush Hour: Lessons in Asserting

:—to bargain a ghost self on the commute in

refusals & rebuttals: if no to hi-gloss object

airbrushed; you say I am running. If no to kindness,

you don’t sob for twenty-six voicemails              if I know my mind, you will change

it & practice makes no like learning to spit

& taking whiskey neat :: learning to take up

too much space—I replace bargaining

with ultimatum >> no, I will not run |except next to the u-haul

that sent your boxes uptown| << no, I will not pay your electric share | $54.06 >>

no, your jewelry now hangs from the knocker |first come,

first served|>> Let me explain:


I pocket subway musicians

for their lightening of trash-fumed spaces—you


would not understand :: I love loudly any louder


I would have woken neighbors my dear, there are noise restrictions

in this part of town. Repetition makes habit >>>

I record each no to play over & over on the way

to work >>> I stare down men who stare down

at me <<< I snarl my smile. We play telephone

over the telephone—: we teeth string, you let it slack.


I refuse


your forgiveness


I have nothing to be forgiven for. Let’s recap:


when you tell me how fucking inexperienced I am, I adjust my stance

to center & inhabit more :: I uncross my ankles on the train.

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