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Elizabeth Horner

Wash Me From This Carnival, Please

 

 

So she rolled up her sleeve and bit

that arcade afternoon which ended in Ron’s Tattoo Parlor.

She’s tried to dust and bleach her ghosts before.   

Whistles and bells still ring her ears, bitten silver nubs

tuned to an orchestra of noise—skeeball, air hockey. 

With all the tickets, her purple sawdust teddy angled under her arm.

 

Now those ghosts are inked and named—

One thing I know is she’s always loved names.

Her imaginary cat is Djuna, a goddess with fur

lapping cheekbones cold, winding her bottlebrush tail

against anything hard.  Barnabus and Blinky.  Dedglow.

Oh Lord, she begs, please violate my rotten walnut

with something light, something lacy, rid this anchored head. 

 

 

 

 

To Yet Another Shower

 

 

I liked it so much better when we lived next to

Mr. Trodell’s Joint for Underage Boys—A Sanctuary.

Those boys played cards in their undershirts,

Spit mostly, and dragged long and slow

on their cigarettes just to taunt. 

 

They saw me watching every afternoon—

I’d sit on the landing with lemonade in frosted glasses

and watch the shoulder slaps, wiping each other’s hair up

off their foreheads.  Sometimes, the boys lent me

a smoke.  I’ve kept those cigarettes in my nightstand since. 

But the best was when one would lean over

the other to help with a hand—

too young to notice the closeness.  Oh.

 
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