Idiot box

I am rooting through the trash bin

Of my discarded friendships

Balled up like so many old Kleenex

Some of them bloody

Some worn thin

Trying to figure out what happened

There were Alicia, Christine and Mandy

Who got boyfriends and decided they didn’t need me

And perhaps left with the thought

That I was some sort of closeted, platonic lesbian

Just because I liked them so much

Then there was Drake

who in his sex alone was different

He would recite Sylvia Plath

From memory and edit my poetry

I’d drunkenly ask him to go skinny dipping

I discarded his Kleenex

After crying into it

The result of an illwilled

Academic argument

And now there is Lavinia

Sitting in the corner of the cafe

With pigtails and a sour expression on her face

Who says I’m so sick of this mysogynistic idiot box of a graduate degree

It’s to the point that I’m flirting with misandry

She is chewing open mouthed and spitting rage

We have an engaging dinner

Then she demurs, so I pay


Above all else

Ok, so here’s the thing

I can’t forget to take my medication

Every single morning

Or replace it with drinking

Even though that seems

Like a sensible solution to me

And even aside from all the issues

I deal with daily

Most recently, your attack on me

I can’t neglect to take my medication

My therapist says it’s too important

And Ive seen what happens

So I have to agree

In which I become an unflattering mix of arrogantly petulant

So long as you’re ignoring me

After this very important argument

I’ll take the time to digress

To become ugly and petty

My next point in this matter

In any case is

that because I, unlike you, my friend

Am so socially successful

Or in layman’s terms, POPULAR

In case you don’t understand

What I mean

I’ve had the opportunity to divulge

Your hissy fit to three close relations

Just throughout the course of my regular day

Immediately after you betrayed me

To my friend in my class

Who had just invited me

To her VERY FANCY birthday party

In my regular daily phone call

From a rock star which of course

I accepted and with my boyfriend

Who knocks down the door

Whenever im trying to be alone to start drinking

And they all said the same thing

You, my friend, are weird and toxic

And it makes no sense to them

That you wouldnt want to visit me

I was absolutely right, but she doesn’t need to know that

When an old friend says Fuck you
and Go fuck yourself in quick succession
I tell her the conversation has ended
and it was completely inappropriate
and uncalled for to use that kind of language
that I just won’t stand for it

then I have to dust off
my internal Rolodex of all the times
i have used these phrases
against the patriarchy, mostly
or those who have tried to impose it on me
in my poetry and drunkenly
but never to a friend
just, you know, every lover
I’ve ever had

I have other friends, I started thinking
who still actually live in this country
and are vying to see me
too many, actually
I could use the gap of one less
to my advantage
I could use that time
to read or pick up a language

it is my ambition to never be sworn at again
and i could do it — for the most part
over the past few years, i have
but wouldn’t I miss her?

I pull over to the side of the road
on my way home, put the hazards on
and email her a question
are you ok? and then i add
a totally unwarranted apology
for both of our benefits

Laurie’s Kind Words

It is part of our job to facilitate trainings
this one is on cases of student aggression
and requires role playing

I make the announcement beforehand
Hello, everyone! My office door will be closed
and you might hear raised voices, but fear not
we are practicing for your upcoming training
we are not really being aggressive

it feels like a parental trick one might pull
on a beloved toddler in an abusive home
we might sound like we’re fighting
but don’t worry, it’s all just make believe

I smile and close my office door behind me
but moments later, when Laurie towers over me
and screams into my face that I am not helping
my face betrays my visceral reaction

I clutch the arms on my swivel chair
and my mouth falls uselessly agape
everyone laughs then, Oh Laurie
Come on, look, you’re really scaring her!
Oh, poor thing, and now she’s blushing

I struggle to regain my composure
and assert that I never want to play the victim again
I don’t want the employees to see me like this
Laurie gently rests her hands on mine
and says, hey, all fun aside
I want you to know that you played it perfectly
you just had a genuine, human reaction
to what I was doing

Your favorite memory

You peer into the indoor pond

While your boyfriend is in the bathroom

It’s a wonder you dont fall in

You’ve both been drinking

But you see at least seven of them

Koi fish, each as wide as both your arms linked

And more muscular than you’ll ever be

The owner of the bar doesn’t have the language

To tell you he either thinks you’re pretty

Or very young but you can see it

In how he scrambles to hand you the pellets

To feed the fish

You let him think, in your girlish delight

That he was right. You are either pretty

Or very young, a child, really

And the fish converge towards the pellets

Falling from your small, balled up fist

You remember reading somewhere

That doctors prescribe feeding koi fish

To wealthy people with the means to build the ponds

And stress related heart conditions

By the time your boyfriend comes back from the bathroom

You dont care that the two of you had been fighting

For three days running

You’re completely relaxed and he thinks

You and the koi fish are both so stunning

That he is finally, finally quiet

So you hand him some pellets

And then the swift movement

These glittering, golden muscles of fish

Are swimming toward his own balled up fist

And he flattens it to release the pellets

Then he takes your hand with his