Issue 20 | Fall 2018

Norman, Oklahoma

For Penny

Here is my acoustic guitar in a room by itself
with no memories or need for a past.

There is my drunk boyfriend playing poker,
the feral sigh of a cat outside. Here

is my asinine face fully made up, just in case
he looks at me. Here are my chafing thighs.

There are the bananas and avocados
molding in the ceramic bowl. Nothing but space

that sometimes wants to be filled. This is the ashtray,
overflowing, pale smoke seething.

Here are my father’s unopened letters, a skirt chaser
from Yucatan. There’s the bartender who overhears

everything. He knows my eclipsed smile. There’s
the tamed coyote napping behind the dumpster,

the wicker chair rotting in the backyard. There
are his eyes glossy on the other side of the bar.

This is the sub-let room’s single bed. Hear the black hawk
foraging in the bushes. See the thinned yolk of a fallen nestling.

Here is where my millennial hangover starts to hurt.
In the rude swig of sorry, in the dull high

of fucking someone else. But there’s the Gray Owl Café
and the bus stop. And here is the violent reversal

of the tracks of the train, the wind, the downbeat
of dusk, the broken strings of my guitar.

Here is the nauseous pulse of two in the morning
at the limits of the city. My legs jellyfish, caked.

My eyes scavenging the unfinished night.
Here are my panties, at the bottom of my big purse.

Here, our love that rots. The shriek and shock of summer
leaning dangerously close to the edge.

Filed under: Poetry

Karla Lamb‘s work has appeared in Word Riot, A Women’s Thing Magazine, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Pittsburgh City Paper, Runaway Hotel, and Voices from the Attic Vol. XIX. Lamb has an MFA in poetry from Carlow University’s Creative Writing program, and is currently working on her full-length poetry manuscript. Lamb lives in Pittsburgh, PA where she works as a project manager for City of Asylum, an organization that provides sanctuary to endangered writers. She has edited for After Happy Hour Review and can usually be found collaborating with various artists and writers in Pittsburgh, PA.