A Ferret, a Stoat, and a Polecat
go into a bar. Wait, it isn’t that kind
of poem. That is to say, they go in—
around the neck of some dame who don’t mind
she’s dudded up in dead animal skins
when it’s damn near eighty degrees outside.
I give her the once-over, sip my scotch.
She flounces on her stool with a snide
look-see my way. Checking out my crotch?
Hey, it fills my pants, I get no complaints.
I say, “Lady, you come here for a man?
I’ll give you heaven, but I’m no saint.”
She lights a cigarette—and then deadpans:
“If I wanted to score myself a loser,
I’d find a dozen weasels hotter than you, sir.”
The recipe called it a “fool proof” praline
and so I try to make the nut-laden sweet
Louisiana is known for: vanilla, cream,
butter, brown sugar, bourbon—greet
the caramel scent that hovers in kitchen air,
wait for the “soft-ball stage” (236 degrees),
wait longer—add pecans and stir and stir
and drop by spoonfuls onto parchment, seize
the scraper, get the last bit of goody out.
Then the worry: is it too humid a day,
and the pralines will stick? And then doubt—
will the sugar turn crumbly? Did I betray
the recipe? A taste, a sigh—the candy is fine.
Wish I could say the same for this marriage of mine.
This Is Not a Poem about a Blank Page
But actually it is. Like a blizzard in western Nebraska, the one where you got stuck for three days in a North Platte Super 8 off I-80 because you wanted to prove you’d follow your love anywhere, even to the Cheyenne rodeo. Like the walls of your new apartment. Like coconut flesh, golf balls, dental floss, grains of rice, seagull lilies, porcelain, pillows, and navy beans (inaptly named). Like the bellies of Emperor penguins, powdered sugar, egg shells, and hotel linens. Like a claw-foot tub. Like ice skates and envelopes. Like your mother’s cat, Pumpky-of-the-Jewel-Eyes, who fell off a sixth floor fire escape when you were two, and walked away from the accident with only a limp. Like mutton fat jade and Indian sunstone. Like sea spume. Like statuary at the Getty. Like chevre, scars, and Ivory soap. Like—no, it is—your fear: that what needs to be said never finds its surface, that you never interrupt those planes of white.
JC Reilly writes poetry, fiction, CNF, and drama. Her full-length collection of narrative poetry, What Magick May Not Alter, will be released next year from Madville Publishing. She lives in Atlanta and serves as the Managing Editor of Atlanta Review. Read her sometimes-updated blog jcreilly.com, or follow her @aishatonu on Twitter and @jc.reilly on Instagram.
Image: “Small Town Flapper,” date created 1922-1923, from The New York Public Library Digital Collections, Billy Rose Theatre Division