Comments (0) Issue 1, Poetry, Writing

By Joseph Nardoni


The coffin slid back into the red

placental blaze, the door swung

shut, like life’s own womb prolapsed inward—

she was gone to ash and atmosphere.


He returned to empty house rustles,

open-curtained shadows

falling from the lips of an end table

graced with a dusty coaster and a beer glass,

bottom coated in dried foam. He sat hunched,

cradled in the old wing-backed chair by his lost angel,

refusing to rise to the rings of the telephone,

the wet trills in his ears abject, nightly noises his good friends


did not know drove him out to Hooksett like a backwards angler

where she danced, the stripper ex-student,

wounded foster child and former sergeant in the Corps

tribal barbs glowing on her arm in the spotlights,

the deeper, trebled soul scars

shared in painful essays, his course a hot crucible

she took three times and failed to finish,

a basic-training washout—


Who dropped it all for foots and kliegs

and the long silver prick that never went soft,

blonde curls bouncing while men locked languid lips

around long-necked beers and dreamed dry-mouthed

fantasies they paid for later, “More money,” she’d said

“than any job I can get with a degree from here.”


Her blue-eyed recognition immediate

as he sat, hanging green on the railing

like dirty laundry, the tens and twenties

the lost, glass-bottomed coral reef trip dream

his life love’s death stole from him

vanishing like a zombie’s day dream:

brains fricassee, brains and sausage gumbo,

brains crisped in garlic and olive oil,

served on a silver platter engraved with memories

only he, the undead one could feast on.


Her performance over, she served him

beer and an invitation to a private dance

where she called him “Professor,”

her hips spinning big eyed belladonna promise

as she reminded him, “You told me I was better than this,”

those words that he saw now had nicked

the corners of her eyes as her lashes rose and fell

while his wallet emptied. She smiled as she pushed

his musky-dusky drug of choice, her nipples pink and wobbly

like two Devil’s Cherry sundaes ripe for picking.


“I’m off at two, rent a room down the street,

it’s old, but reasonably clean,” where he waited,

wallet refilled with ATM donations

until she knocked,

lipped the money from leather folds,

her prehensile tongue folding the bills

into her hand, knowing too behind


her shaded eyes how sad it really was

his toes curled only when she took

him to the screaming moment,

semen slipping and dripping from the tips of her lips,

her face two years too old to be doing this–

deep, meat-cigarette laugh lines and sucking

belly laughs she spat up

into the worn porcelain sink,

pink mold rimming the trap seal

as the water washed it all away.

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