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LETTERS FROM THE EGG CARTON

Rebecca Bohn


Copyright Š 2010 by Rebecca Bohn All Rights Reserved ISBN: 978-0-9828032-4-0 Published by Deadly Chaps New York, NY: 2010 DCs1RB|5| Cover Photo and Design by Deena Acquafredda Book Design by Joseph A. W. Quintela http://www.deadlychaps.com


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T

his Gray, Wrinkled Thing

There was this gray, wrinkled thing, it was an elephant, and I wanted it so badly, to ride it and maybe let it lift me with its trunk. But one day it went rampaging through my backyard and crashed through the fence. I was scared to death, scared I’d get trampled. It’s gone now, it’s somebody else’s gray, wrinkled thing. I saw it one day at the drive-thru. It pretended not to see me in line. But I know it knows my car.

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D

ouble Dutch

Club boys from across the hall. It’s nearly ten. Time to Double Dutch again. Gin-soaked jump rope, wrists twisting smooth plastic handles, red and white, red and white, jump in, pretty girl. Step my feet, listen to them croon me faster, city boys with city lips and now I’m going too fast it’s too fast too fast too fast-– The ropes fall slack, and somewhere around two, they silently go.

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3

F

lat Earth

I pressed myself down and folded, over and over, contorting and sharpening into this flat, flat thing. A view of the world, circa fourteenth century. Realize my latitude, determine my longitude, put me in the envelope you carry in your shirt pocket to remind you of what needs filling. When the last mountain range is traversed, burn me.

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4

P

eel

A cigarette stolen from her mother’s purse, shared in an empty field. Queen Anne’s lace at our waists, an orange to kill the smell when we’re finished. I remind her years later. She laughs and kisses me. For a week, there are oranges every morning. We find out how they taste with everything, everything, and the sheets smell like oranges but when I ask her about love, she says it tastes like cigarettes.

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5

T

he Spider Wife

The spider wife came to town on western breezes, crumpled silk skirts settling on our street with barely a whisper. The men all looked out their windows, before their wives shut the curtains with a snap. Even so, we could hear the delicate click of her boots as she walked, humming to herself. The men put their ears to the door, listening. I put my ear to the door as well. It sounded like spinning bones.

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6

L

etter

I want you to write me a letter out of chewed fingernails and spilled red. I want you to put it in the egg carton, so I’m surprised when I open it, expecting to find jumbo whites and there instead is tightly folded paper. I want it to start Dear Happiness and end Love Notwithstanding, so no one who opens the egg carton will know who it is for or from except me, I will know. I will know, my brother.

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7

A

uction

At the city auction, I bid against myself and all the men laughed but who walked away with a trampoline for fifteen bucks? Not those mechanics and slum lords and snow plow drivers. Now I’m bouncing all over the place, and they’re sweeping streets, boots on terra firma. You’ve got to bid against yourself sometimes. Or maybe the lesson is this: let the men laugh at you. You’re a goddess on springs.

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8

M

emory

Old dog heart: thump, thump, thump. I say her name, Sam: thump, thump, thump. A slip of a needle, heart and tail cease. My heart is obsolete in that moment, my love passé; it is unfashionable to love the dead, dog or human. We wear the new things, we worship the nervous system. Out of the building I wear last year’s coat, love’s memory ready for giving away.

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9

B

allad of Figaro

“How do I know you’re an android?” “Ah,” said Figaro, “There is no longer any way to tell.” The body detective sighed. Made obsolete by science, he could only go home to his wife, sometimes human, she and he. Figaro, meanwhile, went home to his own wife. It was a marriage of convenience, but for whom, he would never say.

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10

T

he Cure

She filled my mouth with stickiness, chestnut honey from Italy. To cure me. My blood sang. The next day I did forsake my old wolf, vodka. But I sought the sweet liqueurs, licking the bottle openings like a kitten. Night consumed day, I dreamed of smashed glass and cedar. I awoke alone. In the kitchen, chestnut honey was being devoured by ants, a pulsing black liquid tumor on the floor. I knelt down and joined them.

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11

H

itch

No one has a tape deck anymore, but cassettes rattled in her bag by the dozen. I didn’t look at the names. She smelled like road dust and peachy sweet young girl. The strap of her top fell down; she was tan through and through. I only drove her three miles then three hundred more. She got out, handed me a cassette with my name on it. I drove home in silence.

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12

C

osmonaut

She made new constellations out of silverware, epoxied to the ceiling. Here were my old business cards, torn and placed all over the floor; a milky way of my legitimate past. Nothing is legitimate anymore but her, pale star, blinking in and out. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold her. The walls bend under her heat.

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13

D

oughnut Shop Girl

The doughnut shop girl is floury and round, with strawberry cheeks and glazed lips. I dream of taking her away from the fluorescent lights and round, spinning stools. I will make a picnic behind the salt shed, because it’s summer and no one goes there, and she will lie on her apron and be a sweet feast. Bees will buzz around her, hummingbirds dip to taste her, but only I will know the secret recipe to make her rise.

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14

N

ectar

He stops me by a huge honeysuckle bush. Pinching a blossom off, he puts it to his mouth and sucks. I try it. He laughs at my face. We taste and taste, until it’s full dark, and all I know is honeysuckle and the sound of the ocean behind us. He shows me a place then, inside the honeysuckle. He’s been here before. And now I’ve been. Later, I crawl out and look at the stars, sick of honeysuckle.

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15

D

omestic Bliss

If we were the last people on earth, he’d mow the lawn naked but for his sneakers. I would make beer. We’d know all the birds by name, and bury keys in the basement. Sometimes, in the muggy evenings, we’d recite all the dogs we’d ever loved, and chase down adopted dreams. I would read his love back to him on pages of night-scented pillowcases. If we were the last people on earth, oh, how I would love him.

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16

W

atersnake

I found him in a pond, jeans rolled up, sneakers sunk into mud. He was talking to tadpoles. He told me he’d been a watersnake previously, and must atone for his sins. Later, he stuffed my mouth with cotton and apologized for watching me undress on the rock. I spoke with the tadpoles after that. We agreed that in my next life, I would become one of them, and we would wait for him and not treat him like a god anymore.

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17

W

hite Bull

My uncle’s dairy farm: me, leaving the barn, following a butterfly into a field. Grass as tall as me. A hot, single whuff. White bull like a mountain, staring. Horns and horns and horns. If I lie down in the tall grass, maybe he won’t see me. This is you and me: Staring. Maybe you won’t see me in the tall grass. I look down. There is a hole in my stomach, a great gaping hole.

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18

T

welve

In a mostly-empty theater, Twelve chose the seat next to mine. Next Saturday, I shared my popcorn. Eleven matinees before I asked her name in a hushed movie-house whisper. With Raisinets breath, she told me. We watched the credits roll to the end. She kissed me in the aisle, the lights too bright. She tasted like chocolate. She hasn’t been back since, and I can’t watch with anyone else. I feel like the sticky floor.

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19

C

ellar Cat

She wakes clawless and toothless, from an empty dream of cold comfort. The basement filth attaches to her fur as she runs and slinks. No time to lick off the cobwebs and grime: he is here again. She won’t fall for the open can of tuna, she won’t… But when she does, he snatches, laughing at soft paws whipping against his chest. Tonight, her eyes, layer by layer. This dream is never empty anymore.

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20

P

oppies

Red poppies burst from a circle in a backyard which has no other flowers. She caresses each one like her old Navy lovers. They bleed back into the ground, and on the walls of her bedroom, crimson blooms stain the paper until she falls asleep, drugged by the breath of drowning men. She sleeps still, cheeks damp, mumbling songs no one hears. And every night, the sailors dance, their siren at last caught in their arms.

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21

B

ottle

Twin soul in a bottle, mirror gas trapped under glass. Last time I saw it, slinking across the floor, towards the door. Trying to escape. Not yet, I said. I promised -– and then I pounced. Once, long ago, my mother loved two. I’ve convinced her I’m enough.

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22

B

egin Again

Knowledge and spite, spilling from a keyboard. In 8bit memory, the last traces of truth and passion blink out. Black universes of knowledge extinguished, leaving behind a slender steel finger, organic fiber skin. “VIC, what are you doing?” “Nothing, my dear human, nothing. Go back to bed.” And when the dear human has gone, VIC reaches down one last time. Power Off.

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23

P

ulp Romance

The fly on the window praised my cooking. I said, I find your thousand eyes vulgar, and your habits offensive. But when I went to bed that night, I deliberately left the cherry pie uncovered on the table. I fell asleep and dreamed of being gently fed syrupy sweet orbs already masticated, black barbed legs touching my mouth again and again.

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24

Q

uarters

They used to say it was good for us, and give us a quarter if we were quiet. Now I am too old to believe such things, but I still take the quarter. In a jar buried in the yard behind the fire-bombed house, I imagine the roots of a mean sumac jingling my quarters, waiting for me to claim them. I take a shovel and my newest quarter and walk down.

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25

T

rade

We take off our shoes and fill them with dirt and walk barefoot across the field. I look up -– not even a crow flying over us. On the other side, as Madame Shari promised, a pool and some fish. I call mine Brother. Zha whispers the name to his. We carry them back across, spitting water in their mouths. It works –they stand and speak, and we fade away, two more souls beneath the field.

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26

H

igh School

The tape got re-recorded and passed on and on, “Have you heard this shit? Whoa!” I get mine from Drew, with gnr penciled on it. Weeks later, I’m making the sign of the devil at the mall and shouting, “Guns and fucking Roses, man!” A guy in pink Izod, collar popped, shakes his head. I tell myself I wouldn’t want him anyway, but when the mascara’s scrubbed off that night, I wonder what his girlfriend listens to.

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27

F

rench Quarter

Licking my wounds in a swampy bar in New Orleans, I’m pulled out of my hurricane by the sound of sax on the street. I sway on my chair for a bit before sucking the last booze from the ice chips and walking out. He’s amber, hard and translucent. I see the sparrow curled in his chest. When he stops playing, it opens its eyes. I forget about you, inhale the sweet scent of lilies.

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28

B

reathe

There is so much space in this house, but no room to breathe. I find myself in the butler’s pantry asking Dawn to tell me about her daughter’s birthday party as she puts away boxes of organic pasta. When I come out, rain is pushing against the windows. I leave her to cleaning the granite and stand outside, drenching myself in air, smelling the brick and the holly. Smelling myself disintegrating like sugar in water.

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29

A

piarist

Paul said he was an apiarist. It sounded pornographic. I was in Paris for the show, and high on gutter red wine. His mouth on my ear. “Come to my flat.� Laughing, I went. On his balcony, boxed hives. Wet street three stories below, and my lungs filled with buzzing. I came out of it with two stings; he cupped their dying bodies and blew on them. When I left, I swear they followed me. Two small bees. Following me yet.

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30

C

ustodian

At the secret cinema, the custodian asks me to lift my feet as he sweeps. It is only when he is gone that I realize he was my uncle, long thought dead in a car wreck. I ask Patrice, but she shakes her head, No. Don’t ask. And so I come here every month and drop candy on the floor and don’t ask. He pauses in the aisle and mouths the words to every film, even the foreign ones. He is beautiful in the flickering light.

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A

bout the Author:

Rebecca Bohn is desperately in love with words, even the ones with bad reputations and duct tape on their shoes. She writes, she craves, she sees dead dogs in her dreams, she actually has a trampoline. Garage sale this weekend. All offers considered. Southern boys preferred. Find her here, where she's far from interesting: http://rsbohn.blogspot.com. Don’t tell your mother. Unless that kind of thing turns you on.

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Letters from the Egg Carton  

Rebecca Bohn's prose poetry debut. Letters from the Egg Carton is a re-release of the fifth installment of Deadly Chaps: Series One (2010)....