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Jenny Rossi

Copyright Š 2011 by Jenny Rossi All Rights Reserved ISBN: 978-0-9838418-3-8 Published by Deadly Chaps New York, NY: 2011 DCs2JR|4| Cover Design by Deena Acquafredda Book Design by Joseph A. W. Quintela



1: Conclusions 2: I could use a new country, maybe Brazil, 3: College.debt 4: What they say: You should go out more. 5: My Body as a Clock 6: Melts like butter 7: The Red Mandolin in Texas 8: The Truth about Sangria 9: I am not 10: Lessons from the Middle Class 11: (Take two aspirin and 12: Fire line! 13: I pulled skeins of quiet off the wall, 14: The Sun Is a Labyrinth, and so Am I 15: Just don’t tell your mother you’re in love, 16: Drink for One 17: Grocery Shopping for One 18: Happiness, a Drink 19: Kerouac is Kool 20: Oh, Bukowski 21: These people are alone for a reason,

22: Abjure/ Verb/You 23: At the racetrack, 24: The Hanging 25: Reading the Catskill Blues 26: What Ray Taught Me 27: How to: Survive the Night 28: About the Author

Dedicated to Professors Boye, Moye, Gilman, and L. Wacholder.




The door shuts, your steps sound as if you are wading through a sea of socks, and the soft thuds down the stairs sound almost friendly, as if the reverberation is shaking hands with the wall very gently, and I see the portrait you never like nod slightly with agreement, and cant a little to the left.



could use a new country, maybe Brazil,

where the sun knives my skin, paring it to the flesh of a peach where even saudade is overripe, a bearable linger, like the sun through the skin of leaves.



For years I ate paper off the floor in order to impress the boys, I would sweep up the dirt with words, and watch the teachers walk by holding hands with their favorites, run into a corner and stuff my belly tight with false pregnancy, hoping that I would give birth to bright faces caught in surprise at my greatness, Oh, oh, these faces would say, You are all I’ve been waiting for, let us walk the halls.


hat they say: You should go out more.

What I hear: Before you adopt another cat. Rush rush rush Dickenson never left her room much. Old hag. Perhaps I am an acolyte, loving too often the shadows of men, never the men themselves.


y Body as a Clock

No overtime allowed. I cannot afford it, no vacation days will ever come for you, and leaving early is always acceptable.


elts like butter

is far too clichĂŠ rather you are as if an angry farm girl dropped broken glass in the churn. My tongue is bleeding and swollen. O, but the taste!


he red mandolin in Texas

was a bright mouth with soft teeth to hold the heartsick-see, the Mexican plays! Most beautiful, the sun, it lingers behind closed eyes the longest.


he Truth about Sangria

While you tilt your arm in the summer rain I drink from a million chalices-all the pores of your skin. This flesh-fruit does me in. Just stay the summer and we can drink like fools who only whisper of love when the stars chide us to bed.


am not

for your super-organic, hydroponic, land-mass, animal-saving mantra. I am not for your republican, rights-snatching, tea-slinging, oil-rig bullshit. I am for the cashier, the street whore, the quiet child with loud bruises cracking underneath the pain of thin cotton.


essons from the Middle Class

Use colors like ‘beige’ and ‘organdy’. Don’t use singles ads. Coyly ask your bank teller how his day was. Keep track of it in your journal. Keep in touch with your slightly religious and/or ethnic grandmother. Attend a school your parents will pay for, but work a 5 to 10 hour a week job to keep in touch with the ‘blue-collar’ roots, which you may not have ever had. Write Letters to the Editor. Volunteer your time (if it doesn’t conflict with You Tubing). Keep the extra Hydrocodone from your wisdom teeth to get through a particularly bad day.


Take two aspirin and

your heart has a slickness pounding on the white door of my back while sleeping tremulous with blood, oilslick and sweet call me in the morning)


ire line!

Happiness is fire under nails, gasoline sweat, the wailing of an ambulance that is my heart saying, told you so, told you so. It’s the first taste after quitting, acrid sweet, a wet tongue on dry lips that is a summary of



pulled skeins of quiet off the wall,

strung it between your ears, cupped it in my hands, made wool socks to pad around the house. Silence is our blanket at night, we wedge it between the stars and in our ears, we wake very silently to one another miming the birds and sun, our mouths moving but no light, no sound.


he Sun Is a Labyrinth, and so Am I

Do you burn if I stand too close, or can I lie in bed after lovemaking? The questions you ask, like, how do you take your eggs, your laundry, or your life--, too glaring, I wince at the plate, your hand, the fork--all too bright your smile has left me squinting. Two suns, you and one through the window, leave me a possum; blind and heavy between soft lips of the dark.


ust don’t tell your mother you’re in love,

because I like cheap vodka, or my shoes will slip off at the door and tiptoe after me introducing themselves as the cheaper version of your lives, the ready-to-wear line of sick; your father will notice the dogs of need lapping at my feet, sense the sorrow denser than bones; your mother will shake my hand, have to wipe the scent of poor off hers, when you come to my place, heavy scent of pine and linen burring to your sweaters, her words like safety pins clinging tight, very nice but a bit strange.


rink for One

Tinny popping of carbonated bubbles echo throughout the rim. My ear is held close. A splash en petit on my nose. I used to think it quiet with you gone. Now every falling of a dust mote brings an avalanche with it.


rocery Shopping for One

I need a plastic bag for your face, a carrot to push through your heart, a tenderizer for your knees, a jar of vinegar to pair with the honey of your eyes, a large oven for it all.


appiness, a Drink

I want to share it, squelch out the juice, grind up the rinds, make a lemonade, (the kind kids squeal at when sipped).


erouac is Kool

You must father a daughter to be this Kool, and leave her to the wolves of the 60’s; you must be a man like that. Have many journeys, skip Birthdays, grudgingly give a paternity test, have more journeys. Tell your Beat friends how Kool you are to be free, and pray you never become Kerouac’s daughter; though her face is writ in the streets, you know not where you tread.


h, Bukowski

All I can liken you to Is a dog eating shit Puking it up And eating that too.


hese people are alone for a reason,

even their families couldn’t love them. Filling small apartments with dim light, it perhaps is better to press softly a few buttons to mute an electric person, than to punch a finger into flesh and have to clean the carpet tomorrow.


bjure/ Verb/You

Expelled like hot piss from the body, one cannot simply know the word but return it, like a bad check, not disbelieving an extra wrinkle on the heart, but that it beats, hot-hard, in the chest, negotiating in the dark.


t the racetrack,

I am betting on a losing horse. You. But I see you running in fields instead of circles. You will take me for everything while I dream of the finish line. The clutch of roses.


he Hanging

I know what alive is but the living do not hang like this on hinges that sway and settle with the dusk.


eading the Catskill Blues

Counting carpet fiber made my mother insane. (Read: I’m trying it after work when you are done packing and gone.) Please, don’t forget your toothbrush and banjo when you leave this time. (Read: Ring is on the counter.) I’ll be busy writing. (Read: Beginning of my 6-month creative block.)


hat Ray Taught Me

I once fell in love with a man who had an open book for a face. When we started to fall apart I could not help but leave copies of Fahrenheit 451 by the bed. “You’re a bitch,” he said but I just sat around flicking lighters until my thumb was raw.


ow to: Survive the Night

When it calls, don’t answer the door. This is very important. Don’t answer. Instead, play your music very loudly. Turn on the television to something obnoxious. Jersey Shore. When the wave of darkness hits your windows, the tide rises to pull you under, pop in a T.V. dinner. Resist. You will hear knocking. It’s nobody. It’s the neighbors. It’s the muscle in your chest afraid to sleep alone. The night only wants to be let in. That is half the battle. Laugh like the sun in rising.


bout the Author

Jenny Rossi currently resides in Vermont, where she talks in the third person out of the corner of her mouth in small coffee shops. The hipsters love it. In the interim she clocks in and clocks out. She does not participate in any riots, but encourages the whispering behind them. Jenny has been published in Short, Fast, and Deadly, Strange Horizons, and Caper Literary Journal.

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