Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

Featured Author

The Kitchen

The kitchen’s where I wait for things to happen,
listening to the goings on elsewhere in the house,
pacing along the narrow galley, sometimes stopping
to wash my hands, turning the faucet all the way hot,
and leaning forward over the sink to glimpse out
of the window. Today I’m waiting for one
to speak to another. An intervention of the
pater familias into the changes of my sister’s
character. I’m looking about the room, from
the cabinets to the flagstone floor, and I’m seeing
tiny moments frozen like the ice cubes in the freezer,
perfectly contented in their dormant state, but lost
forever to the heat of further inspection.
On recent nights, my mother and I congregate here,
flipping through a miniature box of little cards with
tiny printed recipes. It’s like I’m a permanent fixture
at the stove, wedged in the corner, against the counter,
stirring something and listening to my mother speak.
I’m 18 and sometimes my mother confides in me
like I was 53. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I see
her disdain for many little things, things I couldn’t see
when I was 3 or 10 or even 16. We take turns with things
we hate to see in the house, as we shift
the pages of the cabbage recipe, like a daughter and
a sister, drawing further from home while eating
the dinner we had cooked. Once as we spoke, I knocked
over the pepper shaker and it lay glimmering
like a night sky on the floor. I retrieved the broom and knelt
on the stone, sweeping a million broken stars up
from the cold, jet blue floor.
The kitchen is where I wait for things to happen,
since I’ve had such luck catching moments there before.
Today I’m waiting for the tiny shards of a new moment
to skate across the flagstone, so that I may pick them up
and save them on the bottom shelf of the freezer,
sleeping in an ice cube tray.

Cowboys or JFK

Strobing inkblots upon the houses that host,
running the eye paint in every room
in every town from here to the end posts
of the party scene of impending doom.

I need a mixer on the roof-deck.
Could I get it with cowboys?
Or JFK if you have it?
Jackie O. went to my college
and swept up brain remains;
I went and had my brain pummeled
to a stain
by speaking to them, becoming
too invested in their pain.
In basements in Chevy Chase,
they try to kiss me but
I’m thinking too hard.
Country club patrons running drinks
on the stairs,
and peeling off to the bathroom,
making darkness loud in sweaty pairs.
House parties on Mulholland,
anti-socialites working
rooms of shadowed gogo boys
and daddy’s boys gone murky.
And on a balcony I can see Congress,
and our faces become very close
in the light off the cast-iron dome;
a boy from Bethesda hits me
and now I wanna go home.
The doorman on Lake Shore shoots
looks at the bunch, and in moments
the lake’s breath is another boy’s punch;
the wind is howling with violent
boy-love, shouts;
an intimacy that knocks me out.
And like the women flying like flags
at the bus stop,
I let them pull me parallel to the ground
until the wind breaks, I fall,
dropped.

They do it to me so well, and,
like the youths at Tessa’s in Manhattan,
we slip into a communal haze
where dining tables are warm towels
on the hooks of date night play-by-plays.
Men, no maybe boys,
the ones my age who wield so much
over me;
boys are the American hypnotic.
It makes me wonder why they do it,
maybe just to faze me,
or turn the world neurotic,
but I think they mean to pull our eyes
in opposite directions,
to disorient us with their lies,
and play us with invites to functions.
They put us in every place,
and open up the skyline with the corners
of their faces.
Events of mass hypnosis from Washington
to L.A. and flashing scenes in people’s
eyes, the size of hotel ashtrays.

Say yes, say no, say moo,
grab another drink, strip off your mesh;
do whatever they say to do;
watching whatever it is they do;
holding the room like they always do;
Man-boy, lover-boy, entrance me,
I’m through.

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