Tuesday, January 20, 2015


War Paint

The bell for dismissal rings. We rush down the hall
Towards our lockers, throwing our social studies books in our bags
For the test tomorrow: 1960’s American culture
We walk quickly home to fetch our rackets
Meeting back at the court to find none free
Taking  turns hitting the ball against the green wooden backstop of the end court
For a while simply feeling the rhythm as we discuss the latest boys:
Our targets. Their lips: our bulls' eyes
We trade secrets about the latest L'Oreal lip gloss, its shimmer drawing us onward
To the end cap at the corner drug store
And so we fall quickly, eagerly into an intimacy that came to us so easily then.

Back at home  we spy from the window of my brother's room
the soccer field beyond the gate
Parting the primary-colored football curtains to obtain the most discreet viewpoint
I stealthily borrow my dad's binoculars with the royal blue velvet-lined case
Slide them out, removing the plastic lens caps and putting them carefully back inside
We observe like fisherman for a while as the players grow tired and gather
To eat the grapes off the thick grapevines that lined my back fence
Tongues purple, legs sinuous and toned, sweat gathered but now evaporating
Within the coolness of the shade found there
I feel as if I am personally enticing them with the Dionysian fruit.

We place the latest by Dead or Alive upon the turntable as we
Darken our lower eyelids with the blackest eyeliner available
Maybelline:  the red pencil, always the red pencil
Lit with a disposable Bic lighter to make the black run freely
We slip one into each of our purses
And take off down the road, through the confines of the dusty expressway
1976 Delta 88, Medium metallic blue with a white vinyl top and velour seats
My blue sedan, tank-like, and ready
Complete with a withered, rusty hole in the driver's side floor
Eaten away by rock salt: the process and product of a cavernous northern winter
For this was our next mission, the most important
Our hair flying behind us, our optimism running as high as the engine’s RPMs.

We pull into the Franklin Street parking ramp, free after 5
To  survey like snipers from above
Peer below and nervously laugh as we plot our next move
Our teenage insecurities rolling over us
As we wait for the current chosen one to enter the bar below
Luring us by his potential future glances and attention
And so it and our descent begins
Down the ramps toward street level
My stiletto heels and her combat boots scraping and thumping
Resounding  echoes that bounce against the multitude of concrete surfaces
Of our post-industrial city at night:
Darkness passing over in order for us to see clearer
To navigate more precisely, for after all
Only nighttime will illuminate the mind’s recesses,
And so allow for our escape.