Hello, my love, my troublemaker. Let’s roll. We’ll check out the dress department at Bloomingdale’s and try on pretty dresses my family could never afford, then go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. On me. You best believe I will accept no substitutes. What’s wrong? Stop. Stop it. This elegant man is very old fashioned and wants you to be very miserable. Don’t let him rob you of your own ambition. I’ve flown seven million miles—seen Mexico and Japan, Koreatown and Compton-- and God knows it’s hard, and expensive, for a woman to think herself gold and not a shriveled-up mango. Listen: You’re 13 years old and work an overlock machine. You’re a 19-year-old country girl, white and barefoot, on parole for possession with intent. You’re a 44-year-old black woman, a stewardess, with retirement benefits that ain’t worth a damn. You’re 56 years old, and it looks really good on you, but as a matter of principle you think todo lo que soy bueno es el trabajo. You know life is handcuffed to sacrifice. You’re not a hippo, an orca, a beast of burden. You’re the very best there is, con un corazón puro. How dare anybody tell you otherwise.
Sources: Jackie Brown (1997) & Real Women Have Curves (2002)
L.A. Cento #8
I am only words, not a pretty girl, not a robot, not a light happy bouncy every- thing’s fine L.A. wife. I am only a resemblance. You write we’re a couple, and you’re the only one that gets a say in this. I am the fear you carry around, your cosmic significance, your total misreading of anything real, anything like love. How do you share your life with somebody you imagine? The spaces between words are almost infinite, and I can’t live as your book anymore.
Sources: 500 Days of Summer (2009) & Her (2013)
-- Brianna Noll is the author of The Price of Scarlet (University Press of Kentucky, 2017), selected by Lisa Williams as the inaugural poetry collection in UPK’s New Poetry and Prose Series. She is Poetry Editor of The Account, which she helped found, and her poems have appeared widely in journals including the Kenyon Review Online, The GeorgiaReview, 32 Poems, Prairie Schooner, and Crazyhorse. She lives in Los Angeles.