At the saloon, she wears crushed coal, thick glaze of glycerin, she sucks mints & glowsticks—all that
cock. She marvels how unlike milk it tastes, how little it takes to make life—not love
or like, not even a quarter ounce. Men stare at her small wings, her blue-tint skin, but when Madonna plays,
beauty ribbons around her. She loves Madonna so much, and margarita salt, and star-lit alleys.
She loves money, too. When your folks fear their bluish girl and your brother humps everything,
money is more than green notes—it’s escape. After work, she walks the long way, a geometry
of gold squares on each building, lit and silent stories. She imagines airy suites and flutes of champagne, a lover
in each time zone. She could fly home but craves concrete’s hard kiss, its little clicks on her heel.
The tub’s moldy musk perfumes her bathroom. She soaps her spidery skin, remembers the rainbow
sheen that broke at a finger’s flicker. [End Page 93]
Claudia Cortese’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2011, Crazyhorse, Rattle, DIAGRAM, and Third Coast, among others. She lives and teaches in New Jersey, where she is completing a book of poetry that explores trauma, myth, fairy tales, and girlhood.