V-Card 

Mrs. Reidenbaugh gave us our V-cards on the first day of freshman health. They looked homemade. Laminated construction paper with “This card belongs to ________________ and it is special” in 28-point Arial. Cut small enough to fit in a wallet or wristlet, snug behind your student ID and lunch money. 

Mice

There is a mouse in my toe and he comes out at night and whispers in my ear all the better ways I could have done everything I did that day. And there is no negotiating with this mouse—the mouse is right and needs to be listened to because if he isn’t I might go to sleep feeling comfortable and maybe confident and I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself. 

Astronomical Bodies

It starts somewhere inside the body touching tough tissues, sliding along expanding and contracting muscular structures. The strophe and the antistrophe. The wax and then the wane. When she leaves the apartment, her things will become the negatives of a photograph. A bowl left on the nightstand. Her sweater slung over the back of the dining room chair. The toothbrush she forgot to take before she left.

My Mother, Killing A Lizard

My mother got knocked up in New York City, 1960, and never let me forget it: how she’d sweat standing still, her belly swollen and sore; how the rats would taunt her, perched on the stovetop, finding crumbs to eat no matter how well she cleaned. She soon learned not to bother. She moved to Florida before I could form memory. I never got around to moving myself. By thirty, I knew I wasn’t one for change; by fifty, it was best I stay to help out.

The Renovation

There’s a face behind our sink. Scratch that. There’s a face behind the tile above our sink. I hope that makes sense. It’s hard to describe, really. We chiseled away that old tile, we chipped off countless layers of caked-on grime, and there’s this face. Plain as day. Or maybe not plain as day.

On the Repercussions of Divorce for Men

Before she left me, my ex-wife cast a spell that turned me into a mouse. When the shock of this spouse-to-mouse transition wore off, I realized I could still recall all the moves to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller," so of course the endorsement deals came rolling in.

Sucker

She wasn't allowed to have candy, so she kept it hidden in her top dresser drawer. Her mother made her dress in church clothes whenever company would come, and each time Connie would sneak a taste. It became her silent sacrament.

The Cut

I’ll tell you right now that she is going to cut herself. That serrated knife is going to slice right through her flesh till it reaches bone.

Buy You

I found him at a pawn shop a while back, searching for a cheap hammer. He looked good on the outside. Shirt tucked into jeans with pocket flaps, hair like pipe cleaners, shoelaces tied too tightly. He bought the hammer for 59 cents. I said I’d be his girlfriend three weeks later. 

Ants and Lashes

When I learned about the world between my lashes, the thriving bodies mating among my eyes and hatching in my follicles, I felt like a planet. I tried to hold magnifying glasses up to my face in front of the mirror to catch a glimpse of my kingdom of mites. I was fascinated knowing that I’d been born Demodex folliculitis free, and somehow they found their way to me across brow and lid and lacrimal.

Tree People

Rosa has five minutes left of lunch and one shoe off when she spots the older man in the window, phone to ear, hand pulling back the curtain. Definitely watching. Shit economy victim in a pressed shirt, the busy boredom. She makes the show of shaking out a pebble from her sandal, purple toenails for the cops. Criminals and transients – bums everywhere else but here – don't get pedicures. She sticks her bare foot back in the strip of parkway the whole while, and sucks and sucks and sucks.

Little Beat

You play the panyo. The pan-pee-an-yo. The piano. You pick out the notes with your tongue poking out of the corner of your mouth. Your fingers are chubby with baby fat. When you reach for a B, they slip. You miss the note.

We Are All at Risk

Some people live like this until they don't live anymore. And then their bodies are peeled from the ceiling and bundled into caskets. Charcoal-gray suits and church dresses lined with lead to hold them still. Weight created so they are compliant and present in death as they weren't in life. Sometimes during the service these methods fail and the body bumps up against the lid and wavers a little, a sideways fish tank fish rocking stiff and lifeless against the glass. 

The Possible Causes of Your Suffering

Your mother. Your father. Mostly your mother. The fish that was only supposed to live in salt water. The new goldfish that had baby goldfish and then ate them. Learning about cannibalism. Catholic school. The Bible. Shakespeare. The word “counterclockwise.”

Fuckboys

We’re pitched headfirst into a lake in a car that isn’t ours and neither of us knows the first thing about survival. We barely know how to use the Bluetooth. So we panic.

My Noise Will Keep the Record

My home is a witch's lung or a giant’s heart. Puckered cracks of plaster snake up the walls from a half-­century-­old renovation. It palpitates from the constant drum the interstate highway just beyond a courtesy swamp once planted, then neglected, as a sort of apology for the highway. The swamp thrives, reclaims detritus for the realm of bio­organisms, while I am increasingly cybertronic.

Fly

You’ve just lost thirty pounds when you see him at the party. Sure, you’re still eighty-five pounds from your goal, but thirty is no joke and your hair and outfit are on point tonight; everything looking extra fly. It’s simply one of those days when your hair product cooperates and your curls fall tight, and your dress fits you curvier than you really are.

Personal Space

A cloud of talcum powder settles around me and the woman who touches my face studies the lost shape of my eyebrows. The woman who touches my face goes tsk tsk, you’ve waited too long. She can embarrass me a little because I need her.