Watching Magic Mike with John Waters at the Provincetown Movie House
John Waters holds his disappointment like a god blessing the room as if to say this is what you call holiness, this sprawl of imitation glitz, gawdy as a museum gift store paperweight?
Or, why look above when splendor is all around us? The stickiness of bodies a defiance to the pristine chill where we’ve taken refuge from the July 4th mob, obscene
as a pool party sometimes. And I still can’t help but feel like we become close to Magic Mike by wanting him, so I am the star of my own jump scene when I bolt up from my seat and swivel like an Ambien-
stuffed piñata to read fortunes in the bottle caps of liters of Mountain Dew. A star lives in our blood, John Waters explains, extraterrestrial life hovering around our mouths while we stay silent as Greek
statues at the Met. Look at this utopia: the stripper meets the girl next door, and they have clean sex--have appearing like one of Yeats’s wild swans at Coole in my mind-- and he pays for everything, and no woman is getting
punched or strangled for being black. John Waters, you are real to me as the desire to hold onto something ungodly in this theatre near the sea that scrubs the beach
like a street cleaning brush. Instead of wads of cash, you hold garter snakes in your pocket, gold glitter under your collar, and Vincent van Gogh’s face silkscreened over your heart.
For the kitchen scene, we bought a double-basin farmhouse sink for $450 online—and the walls?
So yellowed with forty years of cigarette smoke. Teenagers have climbed in and out of joy
through the basement window for generations and now pocket needles of blood-brown heroin.
How the gray-streaked towns, sleep through the nickel-gray sleet of February.
How toddler sucks the life out of a thumb and waits by the door of the Family Dollar in snowman pajama pants smeared with ash.
It was easy to buy this farmhouse, no longer on a farm for the project. The kitchen hardly different from the 1960s.
What is a hard difference? How much is or isn’t? For $300, we bought a GE fridge with that unmistakable silver handle
locking everything in. And we washed the walls with pans of sudsy Dawn—wiped that vintage botanical paper down,
those olive-green leaves the size of six-week old kittens with fronds growing groovy into a beige background.
(Five rolls of it: $500.) Now all we need is a woman like me to sit at the teal Formica table, her reflection warped
in the steel rib of a charred spoon while she counts stacks of bills and rolls them up into her canary lingerie,
the kind you buy for a quarter of your paycheck at Neiman’s,
her blonde coifed bob like sculpted gelatin, a little bit sinister in its precision, not one hair out of place
as she waits for the hand of the clock to stroke 3 pm: her signal to smear matte cream
over the fresh bruise under her eye, stash her husband’s money in a drawer, throw on a $200 robe and greet the children as they tumble through the door, asking why the house
smells like sugar, why mom looks like a fairy, your eyes ringed and sparkly.
Women in Line
Praise the hands that make a beak, fingertips to thumb, but not the quack quack two men mock
at us while my mother, sister and I talk about the lost key these turquoise days of August.
That particular tenacity of yeast infections from wearing a wet bikini all afternoon
inside the orange juice walls of the Dunkin’ Donuts I don’t need to describe except for
the almost black chocolate moons and stone-white vanilla rings that seem so easy
to taste anywhere, the starry pinched centers of crullers whose glazed openings I’d penetrate
with my finger as a kid, twirling them like a prize. The cashier, petite and Russian, who studied
at the community college, would be there every morning while I waited for the bus, brewing
coffee and making small talk with Ray who spent the night in an alleyway nearby. She was always
kind, even to the men who sucked on her name too long, lurked around for a quick peek of her
breasts when she bent down to refill the dispensers. Maybe this is where I learned to smile
when a man says you’d look better in something tight. Praise my mother who knows this too when she
looks at the two men who are now pretending to flap their wings. You can’t buy pomegranate juice
at Dunkin’ Donuts, one of the men jokes, and I want to show him the full-on
scoby growing inside my swim suit, tentacles of bacteria reaching out from this lacy
swamp, ask him to cure it for me by rubbing the page of a dictionary with two stray hairs.
But women in line don’t speak. We look away like they’re crayfish wriggling through the creamed
mud of a pond’s edge—not cranes opening & closing startled wings on the water—and have
been put there by hymens and the press of an iron and the collective
voice of an audience that says, You are not onstage for us, so Shut Up. Women in line
are not in line but on the merry-go-round of mescaline these men swallowed together
before coddling their cocks in the lodges of their baggy jeans and sneering, Our heaven
is Hellenic as rape. I had pitied them because even now the heteronormative
dictatorship that lingers in my cochlea like ear buds pushed in too far with bad music
whispers: No girlfriends, lonely men. Revenge made an errand of me, hungry
for itself. I thought I lost the key, my mother said reaching into the maw of her purse,
and for a moment I saw something other than contempt sprawled across their faces--
the desire to have a woman dig deep inside of them, to penetrate
and retrieve what they didn’t know had been lost.
Love Poem with Whip-its and HGTV
Call me sweetheart when you fiddle with the hotel TV reception.
Kiss me like a scratch ticket with one foil moon left to scrape
and I’ll soak in the Jacuzzi of your ambivalence sip from paper cups blessed with saved-up
spit, swallow you in my open concept living room. Yes, I’m a sucker for HGTV.
Don’t we all get off to granite counter tops? Let me swish awhile in your curls. Call me crazy
but I’ll slip two fingers into your bad caulk work while we wait for the voiceover that narrates our suspense
like rare shimmers of sludge deep in a well; you and me, two lovers huffing
a tank of nitrous that never expires.
-- Kendra DeColo is the author of My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry. Her poems and essays appear in Waxwing, Los Angeles Review, Gulf Coast, Bitch Magazine, VIDA, and elsewhere. She is co-host of the podcast Re\VERB: A Third Man Books Production and she lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Tyler Millsis the author of two books of poems, Hawk Parable (winner of the 2017 Akron Poetry Prize) and Tongue Lyre (winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, and Poetry, and her essays have appeared in AGNI, Copper Nickel, and The Rumpus. She is an assistant professor at New Mexico Highlands University, editor-in-chief of The Account, and a resident of Santa Fe, NM.