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Scantily Clad Press, 2009

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS "Cath Lab" and portions of "Interlude" previously appeared in Elimae

THE SEWING TABLE AND THE EMPTY HOUSE The catfood skull kept tabs on our table game. The blinds opened and birds sang a lungful. There were mice sleeping fervently, making small dream-babies with pillows. Afterward girls with their pants around their ankles sang a slow song meant to invoke vomiting. She was under the water for twenty minutes without a hat or a pair of goggles. Then the cooking and the pots and the empty baby carriage she rode downhill. You're welcome to lick down the windowpane though her own parade ended dependent on rain.

FOR SOME PEOPLE THAT NO LONGER RIDE BIKES Mother is a creature of habits that do not make sense. She climbs out her window and screams. Eyes stay in the dull television glow. Breasts hang in the mirror like bags of potato bread. We drive foreign cars and smile. The hills taste like broken glass, the kind we ate as children. Even friends keep their doors shut and locked and covered in a thin garlic layer. In the night when she croons the cats respond. They sound like women being raped. They sound like mother when the shower turns cold and her spider-feet break slowly in the drain.

CATH LAB The skinnyness of a wrist on a bed led to the curtains closing and cuffs tightening. Catheters in the lab were broken and he lifted his head to bleed. Instead of parking they pulled into a circle and hitched the plastic glove wagons tight against a failing parking meter. The cafeteria was empty with priests. Until his left leg pricked and sped through the sheets and large piss containers, there were books on tape displayed in glass boxes. The goatee nurse had a shuffle in his step, like his hip split at the hinges. The wire pulled coagulated breakfast through the wound. He was bound but aching to take off his shirt and shovel.

THE ANGRIER PART OF MOUTHING OFF Something sexual moon during the night the dogs got loose and left long streamers of jackets and baseball fields. The hair was short and ready to open. She took a hand and pressed it under the stony beach. She tore out her teeth and offered them to a family of lonely oysters. The fluoride, she says, will oxidize your shells and will make the lowest parts of your spirals shine in the boat light and crack the mouths of hungry tourists.

INTERLUDE television, porno lost another contact the bank teller wears lingerie the song about the naked brother in a bathtub drool stains on the pillow, clean sheets take a number and please sit down we'll be with you shortly you carry a stick under your pants lost another contact there needs to be another race where nobody wins and everybody leaves with brand new sunglasses you look outside for perfect strangers people move their cars

there are dogs breeding in the fireplace there are dogs breeding in the chimney it takes some broken eggs to make a hybrid-electric car it takes some broken eggs to make a skyscraper our clothes are rotting like moths our clothes are rotting like cheese take another card we'll be with you in a moment

two brothers in a bathtub in an ocean two brothers in a bathtub the water running the shower curtain closes and begins to scrub the porcelain with ammonia roosters take off their shirts and lay eggs two brothers in a bathtub in an ocean neon yellow glasses break in half when a dog mistakes them for a mustard bottle creaking bed, broken headboard, dirty pile of laundry and several backwards hats televisions playing hockey girls cutting short hair sell jewelry broken bathtubs and brothers soaping brothers six dogs, a cat, a stray cat, two guinea pigs forty broken remote controls and their respective televisions playing hockey

it's late the dumptruck won't leave the house there's a nasty flu coming two brothers swim in an ocean in a bathtub two brothers won't leave the house long antennas jut from the house like deformed rabbit ears deformed bathtubs swim inside a gymnasium

tin cans lined up on a tree branch the sheets are covered with black shorts and pissing against the wall and running through a wall of saran wrap tin cans lined up on a tree branch people keep moving their cars

boxes of cheap noodles enormous books break the coffee table they sit and cross their legs bright red pants slick black tights it's raining in a goldfish bowl and breaking open boxes of cheap noodles

ribbon on the cheap lamp I want to imagine you naked in high heels and a broken femur in the corner two brothers in a bathtub light cigars and laugh

the love seat is a terrorist in Lebanon I want to be in a bathtub floating like an extinct iceberg I want to be a brother living on an iceberg

it's cold take off your shirt the crab was stuffed with sarcasm you ringed around a bathtub the camera the flash the red pants and sunglasses it's cold open a window it's cold take off your shirt

the stranger's camera her red cup the light the boyfriend in the hallway on the phone your desperate black hair and large personal bubble it's the pushups in a bathtub it's the red camera light

the people in a bed like a bathtub two brothers in an ocean her red cup and the red camera light the time between pushups and her rain and open windows and the music getting quiet her broken sunglasses the cheek

people wearing shoes on a bed in the dark the pigtails the braids the broken static and rain the windows open she asks about baby bottles the closet the camera flash her mouth her teeth the red camera two brothers on a bed with their shoes on the dark with sunglasses two sisters in a bathtub in the ocean

the white shirt in tatters the black shirt the pigtails and two sisters in sunglasses on a bed skin red pants the red camera light the flash the black the white the mouth against a cheek in the black the white

the way a mouth can hold things the tornado warnings working for hands two sisters in shoes on a bed the step the cups the empty china the television turning off

the din of beginnings the end quietly the television turns off in a bathtub the pigtails and the way a flash can mean a mouth the need for more the din of beginnings the end

alone the iceberg the new din two brothers in a bathtub two sisters the flash bulb the red cups the empty room and broken television me thinking about you in the bathtub in an ocean alone the iceberg the new din me alone in the iceberg in the new ocean

my hands in a mouth holding the lungs full of razors the broken teeth the pigtails bobbing through refrigerators bathtubs in a submarine the new ocean a din of brothers people and cards and waiting for the rain the strobe light in a bedroom the strobe light in a bathtub in an ocean the strobe light down your pants in your car

the strobe light from your mouth the strobe light in an oven in your closet up your shirt any strobe light can matter the dirty brown shoes with bright red pants the little girl dragging a body

the spotlights and bottle rocket laugh two brothers in a bathtub the water blue the ocean between icebergs between the two sisters with their clothes off their shoes on I looked between doors I was under them the two brothers fishing for seals on an iceberg the two sisters between doors waiting

two sisters in a bathtub neither beautiful one an apple for a head the other a mouth for a strobe light swallow the red pants eat the dirty floor the apple-mouth in a camera flash two flesh parts make the brothers bathe

the disgusting occurrence of hairbrushes sisters stretching in a straight line down the street the mail comes late every sixth Tuesday nobody misses the newspaper two lips like hams against the glass

two lips like radios humming into the water

the half a lip is a spigot the hands in her mouth keep opening one moment a full face the next moment a windshield a series of misused breakfast cereals the box cutters and her half face in a bathtub the other half is a tinted lens


She took her shirt off like an old woman, and the canoe full of baby’s urine left a scar on her lower thigh. It was a mustache procession of limericks and wrong directions.

There are ringlets in her skull.

They smell like laundry.

The new faces are hungry with boredom.

LEFTOVER ANIMALS SWIMMING Feet smash into the mailbox. Lights stay on specific streets like carpet cleaners standing naked in an unfurnished hallway. There are several empty shopping carts and one says "place your tongue-depressor sticks into our mouths and swab our gentle cheeks." The doctor was late giving birth. Without a shirt, service will be quick and dirty. The deodorant sticks are flies in your mouth. Sometimes clothes don't last. Tatters of jeans accumulate in an empty closet. The lips were large and bristling with pre-pubescent fur. Take the moments to cover your crotch. Crocodiles were left in the refrigerator and they feel like morning sickness.

CLOSE RESEMBLANCES TO DEAD PEOPLE hand nailed to a doorjamb ten teeth strung like lightbulbs my favorite things to do inside his sister play with matches, make sand castles her umbrella shut under carpets awards won, birds shot stillborn aborted smiles she licks ticks and smells milk hands hard and hate the wheelbarrow people stuck in mud shoes sinking like sand in glass carefully knit caps and thick gloves the fetal positioned cop in a park-and-ride

her eyelids spinning ponds and the uterus of his sister, the tubes of his grandmother twisted into balloon animals wafting like freighters in a bathtub

THE YELPING SHIRTS The llama in the underwear drawer wants another taste of sock fuzz. ‘I won't tell the garbage chute, I won't mention your sister, just stuff me full of cotton.’ The eyes come out of the laundry basket like a pair of floating golf balls. They pause. The llama is empty and willing. The llama opens his mouth to sing then stops. There is no door. People stare in from across the hall. The llama curls into the fetal position and waits for the shirts to de-wrinkle. He quietly hums songs about castles and the peat-bogs of his youth. The llama crawls through the ventilation system in search of a scrap of lint to satisfy his constant cravings for machine-spun fibers.

GETTING MARRIED BEFORE FIFTEEN You sound so sexy when you tell me to close the oven and your Baltimore sex addictions keep score. Hunger is a pet's name. The time lag between 'hello' and 'telephone' conveys the quick heelless shoes she wears. The empty painted outhouse sounds like home. Drunk soda cans and empty pickle jars keep her eyelids closed. The small shattered handshakes and empty cell phone case spend twelve dripping hours alone. Her purse stays purple and empty in his paunch and ready to peel back from the road. It became a passion, she said, when the money started rolling and he peeled back his contacts like a mask.

PATTERN OF LATENT INSOMNIA We keep house just to have it. We keep the bottles just to fill with bile and missing bibles. The brittle mother's face stayed inches from the hard frozen ground ready to lick the frost from between the blades of grass. Her chin pestered ant hills and garbage men. We wanted to touch her with our mouths. The china snowmen and the porcelain cats roll down hills in shards and shatter against playground swing sets and safety vests. We were sentenced to resuscitation in public pools. The stickballs and cockthrobs were enough. Her stranger's hand formed a claw and groped at the cloth on an old women's crotch. She wanted patterns of flowers and patterns of people in heat. The fencing was an excuse to thrust publicly through vending machines and condom wrappers and cheap little boy underwear. She wanted patterns of friendship but not real radiators burning off her feet.

PLACE WHERE MUSTACHE EQUALS NAUGHTY The lip fur is growing out of control. The lip fur wears velvet suspenders. The fire department passed statutes against excessive use of Christmas lights during nonChristmas related holidays. Beaches combine the fun of fining a neighbor and the pain of closing a car door on your head for one low price. The lip fur keeps pace outside of your grandmother's door every night. The city council fined the fire department for excessive use of large-hose jokes. The city council spends most of the day on their backs fanning their jowls. You undress and ask for more bacon pie. The lip fur stares uncomprehendingly. Your mouth opens and firefighters roll tape down your throat. The lip fur is in control of the situation.

THE OTHER MEANING TO YOU There is no me, there is a pen stuck in his eye. Sweaters dipped in sweat, caked-on sperm stuck to the wall, and her long mouth lounging on an empty couch. His bodysuit was fleshy and frightening small children outside churches and tophats and gangrene teeth machines grinding away his foreskin and tiny feet chattered down stairs. Skinny tits and locked tips keep her phone booth box cheap and empty, unused wrappers, his tall arms tentative down her throat. They want the freezer melted and fake and strands of popcorn string placed across the pseudo-frontdoor. Her weak groan moaning from the bathroom as her stomach rolls recoil like boards under hammers under hands gripping giant condoms. Tooth decay and tartar sauce mixed to make her perfume. His bedroom, her bag of rocks, ejaculated egress and alien injunctions,

orange potato-skin peeling in her UV showerhead.

Drew Kalbach lives in Philadelphia. His chapbook The Zen of Chainsaws and Enormous Clippers is available from's chapbook series. He blogs at

"Theater" by Drew Kalbach  

A Scantily Clad Press E-chap

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