It is here that the folding house comes to mind— the weight too much for the shallow foundation.
The house developed germs: scotch soaked pillowcases, mold in the toilet, a head-sized hole in the linoleum, broken television set, cast iron skillets, wood stove and the bones of a cat. The tipping point was the father’s behavior. The house developed disturbances: dehydrated houseplants, yeast lining the inner walls, blood in the toilet, a knife at the mattress, sniffing cockroaches on the ceiling, cracked cusp and water filled, broken dishwasher.
It is here that the function of the house became irregular the daughter began to break— the fluctuating heat from the stove set the dwelling to sweat.
The house slumped, doubled over, collapsed— and bore a woman.
c² – b² = a²
They told me I didn’t have to come back and they would still count my 30 hours— They told me that the last thing I will think of won’t be my toenail fungus but the untouched bed with our separate blankets. They told me none of this. c = the supercritical pitchfork I’m welding or the sledgehammer I’m wielding. Did I really get that wrong in my last letter? Moving forward, my relationship is too open. C is the ‘center’ where there is a fist a great fucking big fist where I hold your letters. I keep filing them under propaganda.
b = 15 hours. It could be as practical as that. But time isn’t practical. Only this fist that is pink inside and no matter how many letters white pages and I’m trying not to inspire you or lift you from the ditch you have curled under all those beautiful houses we said we were going to live together and set fire to instead I have to ask why we’re still friends anyway it only makes me hate you more.
a = the dark areas the unsettled areas the places where we could never build a bridge or a house or a fire.
I Worked for a Boss Who Wanted Sex
I had a box knife in my pocket. I had a tape machine, door card, staple remover. I had nails that curled under. I had chicken wire in the trunk. I had dreams we had sex.
I worked for a boss who thought I was smart.
I could use a computer, type, sweep, drink whisky. I drank black coffee rampantly. I had toenail fungus. I had bad nail polish. I drank alcohol with coffee. I had soda sundaes, ran office machines. I priced all the wheat.
I worked for a boss who thought we were friends.
I had chipped nail polish. I coveted sunglasses. I suffered from a lack of kindness. I prayed. I drank beer mostly. I cleaned office buildings. I cleaned someone’s shit off a toilet lid. I stole everything.
I temped for a boss I hated.
I had four hours to call a thousand people. I tried to be good. I could use a computer. I drank coffee, talked eagerly. I was smart. I priced health care, had a tape machine. I left at lunch on my first day.
I worked for a boss who hated me.
I thought he was real cute. I cooked vegetable soup. I ate grits mostly. I wouldn’t obey nor listen nor whatever. I wore argyle socks, was good at karaoke. I slipped on butter, fell real hard. I drank whisky. I found other jobs.
I worked for a boss who paid me to pose.
I rarely wore clothes. I’d lie like tapestry. I felt each brush stroke. I was on time. I cried. I posed for three hours. I wore a scrap of polyester If I wore anything. I drank cold coffee. I sneezed. I ran or walked quickly.
I worked for a boss who liked to watch me work.
I’d lift five pound bundles for twelve hours. I wore very little. It was hot. I talked. I drank. I set up machines. I felt my bones, everything. I had never been so broke. I had never been so wrong. I took speed. I had a pattern.
I worked for a boss who took me to lunch as reward.
I thought. I noticed. I twisted my hair. I drank cocktails, felt smart, could use tape. I could pose. I had benefits. I gained ten pounds. I talked business. I priced services. I had manicures. I wore black shoes.
-- Susan Yount is editor and publisher of the Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal and madam of the Chicago Poetry Brothel. She is finishing her MFA in poetry at Columbia College Chicago and works fulltime at the Associated Press. Some recent works have appeared in Weave Magazine, Glint Literary, and Anobium Literary Magazine.