The Room of Disembodied Excitement
No one wants to know about your
publications or your missing fingers or your
Dodge Charger. They have been waiting
all night, perhaps all their lives,
to tell you why their sister is a bitch.
No one wants to hear the nervous catalogue
of anecdotes that mean “I like you,”
they would like to know if
the beers in the kitchen are free.
Their sister just sent them another
text subtly mocking their apartment.
Do you really like this person
or does it just comfort you
to sleep next to someone?
You once thought sleeping near your parents,
even if the closest you could get
was the bedroom floor,
would ensure they lived through the night.
You remember Tom of Finland said,
“If I don’t have an erection
when I’m visiting a museum,
I know it’s no good,”
and you love the idea
of a room of disembodied excitement.
You take out a sharpie and draw a perfect ass
on the face of the person you’re talking with.
The lines extend to the edges
of their face, and onto the wall, and into
the air. They spread farther and farther
until you can’t see the ends anymore.
A Dead Person on the Bow of a Boat
We drink purple cocktails with white foam on their surfaces that are nicer than what we normally
drink, you in your shirt with stripes that match your sweater and me in my belt that matches
my shoes, I tell you how I like to break into abandoned houses and you tell me how you like
to chloroform people for fun, you tell me about being a law student and I tell you about doing
PR for an appliance company, and I lie in bed, maybe for years, wondering how you fall asleep
so quickly, and feeling like the kind of state-funded sculpture made of people after they die,
designed to appeal to everyone, like a bronze person standing on the bow of a boat, and then one
day on a crowded beach I realize why you sleep so easily is not the question, but what keeps me
awake, which is the absence of this woman lying on a towel, casually squeezing her own ass.
Things That Aren’t Real
Sometimes I think you’re inventing drugs in order to list more addictions. You need to stop
insisting on the existence of things that aren’t real. The pathologically high value you place on
my concern makes me feel like a grandmother, and not just your grandmother, but everyone’s
grandmother. Exhausted by the constant rocking chair-sitting, storytelling, and baking of
cookies, my depth perception is affected to the point where I try to grab objects in the distance
because I think they are tiny. Just admit you’re addicted to dog tranquilizers like everyone else.
From Under the Ground
She said she gave you a kite string
because nothing ever lasts.
As you bury it in the park
I worry I’ll say something that stupid myself.
I once gave a woman a jar of dirt
from a hill that was in my dreams,
and told her she was the seam
between dreams and reality. Was that worse?
I gave another a toilet chain
from an abandoned house that I kept
to remind myself I’m brave, and told her
I didn’t have to be brave with her.
Stainless steel and rocks,
I would have stayed with them forever.
I met a guy who’s afraid of carbon fiber bicycles,
because they’ll outlast him.
Did a similar fear
make those women leave?
When you’re on top of me,
I think of Jean Genet being fucked
by a convict, how the man “unfurled
on him like a leaden branch”
though you’d be a living branch, maybe a pear tree,
with those little white flowers
whose petals stick to the dark twigs when it rains.
A craftsman of contexts for the beauty
of toilet chains and dirt, I’m silent
in the presence of beauty
that requires no context, and giddy
as anyone who has just learned
why people give each other flowers.
SARAH GALVIN is the author of The Stranger’s “Midnight Haiku” series, which are neither haiku nor at midnight. She has a blog called The Pedestretarian, where she reviews food found on the street. The thing she loves most about reviewing discarded food is receiving text messages that say things like “I hear the bus stop on 3rd and Union is covered with ham.” Sarah is a poetry MFA student at University of Washington, and her poems can be found in iO, New Ohio Review, Pageboy, Dark Sky, and Ooligan press’s Alive at the Center anthology.