This poem was inspired by a class taught by Jenny Factor at Antioch University Los Angeles.
Dancing with Swans
neighborhood bar seated at usual seat surrounded by usual people laura waves hello walks towards me she once told me it was pronounced lowwra showed me how to open mouth roll tongue say it just right hard not to be jealous my c cup illusions of plastic and foam her c’s the tetas of dreams
bar’s doing a special promotion she says try this new beer get a free t-shirt what kind of sissy beer has a swan logo? when i’m alone at the bar laura and i talk laugh so what the heck? i say clever or cheesy: neck of the bottle longer than most swan on label says brewed in exotic place i’d never been label comes off in one fluid motion old label usually comes off in pieces sticks to my fingers i grab a lemon wedge from container on the bar push it inside bottle
it’s stuck my finger is stuck with wedge inside bottle in awe i stare at warm liquid shouldn’t be this warm must have gone from box to bar not box to fridge to bar and it’s warm smooth inside finger muscle memory of lying shoved between thighs to keep warm in bed though this isn’t me, isn’t my bed i jerk push pull use other hand to hold bottle for leverage pull hard it won’t let me go what if i never get my finger out? suffocating i know fingers can’t breathe but my finger can’t breathe
wasn’t looking for anything new but something new walked in fancy packaging long neck free t-shirt i sold out on usual for greener but on the other side the cat doesn’t always find satisfaction it sometimes finds its finger stuck thoughts of breaking bottle against bar fight with myself you idiot you’ll cut yourself you’ll bleed hurt
touch on shoulder takes me out of trance standing in front of me husky laugh she looks into my eyes says mami just relax inhales deeply one hand resting comfortably atop c’s maybe d’s gentle but firm squeeze on my shoulder means repeat after me i inhale deeply we exhale again inhale exhale just as gentle as lowwra she takes my hand pulls i am free wiggle finger shake it touch it to other fingers get to know each other again she picks up bottle takes long swig like cherry flavored kool-aid though no red stain on face as she wipes her mouth with back of hand laughs loud unabashedly
my insides shrivel like stuck inside swan neck bottle i hadn’t tasted wouldn’t taste wish i chugged like she chugged wish it put her smile on my face wish it was the usual wish to drink swan beer mixed with lemon lowwra saliva she lets me keep the free t-shirt i didn’t deserve maybe you’ll try it next time she says winks no waiting to exhale for next time won’t come she tells the bartender to give me the usual walks away my savior usual savior on lonely nights i peel the label off in pieces it sticks to my fingers sip at usual seat surrounded by usual people tasting usual grass bitter sweeter
This poem was originally published in the Spring 2010 issue of the print journal San Pedro River Review.