Obscenity: a User’s Manual
A blue gap-toothed comb.
leather heels, dark and vicious as mirrors.
Cabbage roses, faded, stretched.
The hem unraveling.
the leather cuffs reeking of
saddles and silverware to my bed posts.
After dark, the women with hands
tucked into short fur coats
clack up and down the street. They
carry the reflected light of neon
in their hair. It is your job, he says, to envy them.
In the store, the women’s faces
behind the counter. Very pale,
attempting to smile. Often they
are busy in one corner
holding an instrument
and explaining its use to a customer.
There might be a key somewhere. If
there is, I swallow it.
Stuttering, whispering. A small start when
the bell on the shop door tinkles.
the contraption in the bottom
of my closet. It has a stinging
smell, like a lemon
rind held too close to your nose.
A spot on the center
of the chair cushion.
A tug on my earlobe with his teeth.
A row of recently cleaned slippers
by the bed.
The way he wants me to
talk while we’re at it,
to tell him things that happen on fishing ships
when the men have been
at sea a long time.
The fishscales, I say,
get caught in their beards.
A cup of old coffee,
reheated, red letters on the rim.