Asked for sexy-messy beach hair, paid for a docile bob
Sprung from the hair salon with a smooth backcombed flip, I looked like Betty Draper in her fat phase. Went in unkempt, came out kempt. Asked for sexy-messy beach hair, paid for a docile bob. Everyone is trying to tone me down. Inwardly I scream. I conjure charisma, inventory my expired cosmetics caboodle. Create infected smoldering eyes. I believe in pipe dreams.
I am in the age of ointments and creams.
I wear baggy-shouldered blazers, the same black loafers with various dull skirts.
Know all about healthy eating, on paper. Kale and cauliflower, good; mini-donuts and wieners, bad. A skinny boy-principal evaluated me once: stroking his silky chin hairs he nitpicked while I bootlicked. For relief I cobbled together a rhubarb cobbler. I climb out on the ledge, my resolve derelict.
Sometimes I make it out to the cake district.
Sleep deprivation has become a thing. Except in meetings, screenings. Dream of my dead friend, a little plump in a red pencil skirt, curled up with a glass of wine. She drinks forever in my head at night. Perspiring and coffeed-up, a beige upholstered creep,
I roam the hallways’ 90-degree angles in 90-degree heat. My deodorant is a liar.
Lately, I want nothing as dangerous or deep as a good night’s sleep.
Love bite, now there’s a term I connect with. Sideswipe, not as much. Current phobias: allodoxaphobia, fear of opinions.
A class discussion is me talking; yet, acousticophobia, fear of noise, includes my voice. Arithmophobia, fear of numerals, is ample on my bathroom scale. Atelophobia, dread of imperfection, cowers with atephobia, fear of ruin. Each morning I awake anxious but cheerful; it reminds me renewal (not change) is possible.
I feed a careworn buffalo in my sleep. She grazes on my faux pas all night and won’t let me rest. I introduced my neighbour as “the bastard who parks his motorhome in the cul de sac.”
Now he’s erecting a higher fence. Don’t worry yourself awake. One day we’ll all be released.
It’s possible to hate someone after they’re dead.
I do it all the time. The alcoholic’s children twice traumatized: years of yelling, then find him deceased. Maybe I shouldn’t have high-fived the priest.
I’m beading my noose to make it pretty. A flat-footed angel comes to take me home. Lilac is not my colour. I chop my wedding ring on the cutting board. Resentment has its consequences: a pizza stone can be a weapon or a shield. I sow what I reap.
My Venus flytrap is full. And you should see what’s in the woodshed sometime. One catheter in a lifetime is too deep.
Maybe it was a mistake to fall asleep.
I drank beer in an inflatable boat within weeks of nearly drowning in one. If planets are idiots stuck circling the sun, what chance do I have? Criminologists say only pedophiles are incapable of change. Yet the pile of hamburgers sold continues to grow.
We’re diamonds trapped in the record’s rut. I will always love cheese. But there was no Asiago at the Don Ho anniversary show.
I crave warmth, but knit holes; build ladders, but can’t climb them; smile, but look medicated; plant peas, but can’t shell them; adore pizza, but dread the man who delivers it; keep my pencils sharpened, but to a nub. Groom myself with an oversized hairbrush that shreds my skin into tiny white flags. I’m a shabby cherub.
Still, I forgave myself at Crookback’s Pub.
Tanja Bartel is a writer and high school teacher. Her first poetry collection is forthcoming. She lives in Pitt Meadows, BC.
“Dream Job” references “Dish Bitches” by
Gabe’ Foreman. “Unkempt” and “Inept” reference “Tonight s Episode: The Eyes Lie Twice” and “If Jesus Drove…” by David Mcgimpsey.