Human Resources Are Limited

I was dancing at a club called The Downtrodden
Pony, but not for the money. I had green
glitter and pink. The walls seethed with carpet,

cages all wire like an immigration checkpoint.
My arms resembled a tiger attack,
a ruptured cloud. Not the way I moved them

but their overall sentiment. I was a box of cotton
used to soak up a paint spill,
only with fermented lime juice instead of paint.

I did it for the sense of power that comes only
from turning yourself like a coin.
I was showing them. Sometimes I drank coffee

from a flask. One manager bought us matching
sombreros with no cover on top,
asked me to model for a gyros advertisement.

I should have been at school dissecting spiders.
The lake whipped itself, making
everyone feel uncomfortable. Later I danced

at a club named Nightmare’s. I kept asking to
shake tassels for Henry Fuseli.
I longed to emerge from an oversized breadbox.

Risk Management Memo: Backstage Protocol

Feed your northern dog is all you can do.
They put a switch in me, my necklace was pills.
Eventually we’d all become trick smoke

and telegrams, but what about the meantime?
I was imaginary, like a hot fiancé
from New Zealand. It was easy to watch

the street from my glass box,
despite all the cash and the slips and awful
marabou scarf they handed me

wrapped in a tin sarcophagus. Ginger
Rogers might have rocked it,
but not this 183rd Street tumbleweed.

The lady next door made me
drink tea from the chipped cups of royals.
By royals she meant the men who

asked us to steady their wigs at dawn.
The pills kept everything in.
I even took pilot lessons, impaled myself

on the sharpest sugar cone
in all of Frankenmuth. Took up nursing
classes just for the ipecac.

I shoplifted lipstick the color of Benadryl.
The sky looked like whores.
My dog was the prettiest lady on the block.

Mary Biddinger

MARY BIDDINGER's most recent poetry collection is A Sunny Place with Adequate Water (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Forklift, Ohio, jubilat, The Laurel Review, and Pleiades, among others. She teaches poetry writing and literature at the University of Akron, and edits Barn Owl Review and the Akron Series in Poetry. Biddinger is the recipient of a 2015 NEA creative writing fellowship in poetry.

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