Lament with Rhinestones and Wonder
BY STEVIE EDWARDS
I carried John in a small sparkle-pierced wound
above thin upper lip—A beauty mark like Marilyn
he explained, his voice stoned and astral, sweet
lilt so hushed you’d think he was afraid of waking
years of ashes lining the unfinished attic
hotbox. College: good years for fantastic.
Say the glass pipe tasted like diamonds and Paris.
I’ll listen. The band below reverberating electric hype
through floor beams—cute little drummer of paradise
got his eyes on my mouth. Girl, John said. Get it
while it’s good. We were good in the night,
the glory stars all ours for following south
toward the wide grid wards of Chicago like so many
misfit Michiganders. Alone in public, I deserted
a gallery dizzy with drunken city believers, lamenting:
What am I doing with my life and where’s the rent check?
The late shift piercer at Tattoo Factory in Uptown
asked if I was sober, if I was sure. One beer all night
but manic as the lake wind, I’d have taken a dozen
fat needles in my face if he and my checking account
would’ve approved the only beauty I could believe:
something violent and shiny. I’d been putting it to bed
for years with spiked teas and NyQuil, adoring
how it could be heard even without words. Its power
like mirrors: pitiless, everywhere. I wonder
if I’d taken the El downtown, the Jackson 6 south
to Cove Lounge or Bar Louie, if I could’ve sighted
your wetted silver stud sticky with gin and tonic,
if there could be a story where you and I
met wearing our sad human suits and were saved
somehow by the company, by the not welling
alone with the hell of it. If a wreck like me
could’ve stopped the newspaper headlines:
the young man, brilliant of course, dangling
from the bound sky of the university geo lab.
In the shrunken obituary photo, the starlet
glimmer pain still there, hair bleached platinum—
I was making myself in this image, John.
My hair already pale straw the day I learned
you were done and put my beasts to rest
in a pill-softened bed. In a queen-less drab town,
the gilt bead flew from the steel hardware’s end
under the gust of a full-lunged flu sneeze,
and the two-year-old hole sealed shut too quick
to slide a twenty over a glass counter and ask
to replace the familiar mark. Beware of the mouth:
just half an hour and it starts to heal. John,
I keep waiting for your face to close.
Stevie Edwards is a poet, editor, and educator. Her first book, Good Grief, was released by Write Bloody Publishing in 2012, and subsequently received the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) Bronze in Poetry and the Devil's Kitchen Reading Award. Her second book, Humanly, is forthcoming from Small Doggies Press in 2015. She is Editor-in-Chief at Muzzle Magazine and Acquisitions Editor at YesYes Books. Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Rattle, Indiana Review, Devil's Lake, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. She is a Lecturer at Cornell University, where she recently completed her MFA in creative writing.
More by Stevie Edwards:
"Scheherazade," Poetry, Issue Ten.