Sexting a Famous Musician Mechanical bull riding or something cheesy was how I used to imagine our first date, you laughing with a smile I’ve Google imaged near daily for one year as I’m bucked sideways like a gangly angel then landing in the foam, your fuzzy stuffed squid in a toy box just for you. Cuddle me, but I never said it at whichever opportunity I had. It passed. This all began when I drunk emailed the address on your official website not thinking anyone would ever find it. You were so nice to talk to me. Tenderness is everywhere if you know where to look and when the conversation turns to fantasies I describe fucking you to death, the dream being about death as well as life, because it’s precious, I explain, trying not to sound so young. You have your own tender things, I’m sure, in your open relationship about which you warn me and that’s okay, though I’m not sure I know better than to do anything you wanted me to, “Fuck Genius” going through my head to the tune of “Earth Angel” after texting you pictures of my spread self-slapped ass. I spend the rest of the day wondering who I can give my tiny gifts to, if not to you, as if scrounging through a toy pit with my ugly and huge mechanical claw. Laugh about it, it’s true I’m the only one who’ll make you this happy.
Well-Read It’s never a good sign when your boyfriend starts to talk about his ex-girlfriend, and you should know that you’ll soon be next, but not before you know all about her—Maggie— and all the ways you two are different. You’re told she was draconic, well-read, and at seventeen, too, impressive, since you haven’t finished a book in over a year. Such mature terms! Lifted, you’re sure, from conversation between two snobby parents appraising the girl’s breed like a wine of indeterminate vintage, certainly not from high school yak, though our drama class might have been where he picked up the idea of sexual role playing, which he tells you Maggie was very much into (aren’t you?), and how bold, like the roles you tried out for and never got, the ones she did, Elizabeth in The Crucible, and Lady Macbeth. Whispering Lady’s lines in his ear, undressed (they’d have to imagine the costumes), maybe Maggie says, Unsex me here and maybe she means it, the plea to be unwomaned, released from his fantasies of medieval corsets and anal, too heavy a character to carry off campus, to the backseat of his car and back again. She’s just a child, a kid actor, after all, but blue-eyed, so help her, and pressure for a woman to perform according to her beauty is real, even though it won’t last forever, it never does, but your future ex didn’t know that, was blindsided when she dumped him, stayed in town after high school, and started taking walk-on roles at the local playhouse. He settles for you, since for a while, you convince him you’re strong, like he thought Maggie was, but you know Macbeth is nothing without his Lady. The potential— He asks, What the hell happened to her? which is another way to say, in Macbeth’s words, What a sorry sight to see her acting so perfectly out of character.
Enquirer: “Courtney Love’s Lonely Final Days” I’m not brave enough to be obvious, not like the last-minute candy wrappers at the supermarket checkout are, or the tabloids with red type and photos of ailing celebrities or the woman in line, her rhinestone barrette, and her request for the cashier to fix some problem right this instant hurled upward from her wheely-cart of oranges, lilies, and Coca-Cola and to add to it, she’s wearing colorful tights encasing thick legs, plus she’s buying cigs, but the thing that’s insulting the cashier enough to call her sweetheart, eyes rolled, and tell her to move ahead is her gray hair that looks three days unwashed, brushing around her head like greasy twigs as she zooms past the aisles of blonde dye, red dye, black dye, and there’s a resemblance between her skin and Courtney Love’s whose latest supposed coke binge leaves her eyes baggy and photographed at an LA corner store, fully aware of those cameras hiding, or not hiding, between the shelves, the hungover purchase a careless thing like a pair of dirty panties left in the middle of one’s apartment when the hookup buddy buzzes from downstairs. Love’s skin is never more taut these days than when stretched on the cover of Enquirer, and waiting for the old lady to stop yelling I touch the filmy magazine and turn to Mom and say, Courtney Love is actually kind of cool, right? Losing her patience, linen bristling, she asks Where in the world did you get that idea? like it’d been a skirt I bought on clearance but still wasn’t worth my money.
We Went To The Flea Market to Find Something Shabby Chic I. The flea market is as thrilling as playing with a tin toy carousel with paintings of circus animals, the reds and blues blurring as it spins, the lions and monkeys and elephants blending to make a new beast altogether. My mom’s house is a mutant animal, too, full of chipped vases and antique armoires, each with their own genetic makeup, except her monster can and will reproduce when eventually the gentle giant is ripped apart limb by limb to be sold back to flea markets, reupholstered and repurposed for eternity. Is that heaven? II. I could watch this circus all day, the rows of cluttered tables, this menagerie of conglomerate traditions, each object’s history sounding mating calls across concrete aisles. Squaw! Roar! Ki-Ki-Ki-Ki-Ki! It’d be so dangerous if I weren’t in the audience, but I am, safe and snug behind my purse Mom tells me to grip to my chest. I’m not allowed to be a participant in the act. I’m here for the boiled peanuts, to see the thirteen-year-old boy in the Pantera t-shirt smoking a cigarette, for the banana boxes full of old cell phones. I’m not here to talk to a boy named Dash who asks for my number, even though I want to play video games back at his house, to discuss Pink Floyd in a sweaty back room and kiss in the dust of this red-clayed dream. III. My mom has come to the market for a cane-backed chair or a pillbox hat that won’t see the light of day again to wear on a Saturday morning for the hell of it, dusting the things that won’t leave by hand but by milk crate or dumpster. She polishes them as the circus parades its season’s adorned elephants down Palafox. We’ll go out to watch them pass, but I’m a child always held tight from behind, and even when I entertain the thought of breaking free to join the passing caravan I know it’s just a show. It’s tradition to watch them go, ignoring the bags under the ringmaster’s eyes, or when he winks at us from the other side of the guardrails.
Sarah Morrison is a musician and poet from Tallahassee, FL. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from Florida State University and her collection, Unmentionables, won the Mart P. Hill English Honors Thesis award in 2018. She will attend University of California, Irvine in the fall of 2019 for her MFA.