A Prose Poem and a Sestina Walk Into a Bar: Part 1
(If you play your cards right) I’ll show you my tits
We met in bartending school. Behind the well, he refilled my ice sink & we restocked the top shelf with water from a soda gun. We talked about booze for a week. On Monday we got empanadas for lunch. He looked like Jude Law, I told everyone.
Tuesday we studied in a bar down the street from class. He made flashcards & quizzed me, // “Sea Breeze?” // “Uhhhh vodka, cranberry, &…?”// “Very Cool Girls order Sea Breeze. VCG. Vodka, cranberry, &…?”// “Grapefruit!”// We said in unison.
On Wednesday, I went to class early to squeeze in some diligent cocktail studying. The instructor, a middle aged quintessential European who made his own clothes and believed beer lovers were quacks, was drying a martini glass behind the bar. He asked me, // “Where did you leave Jude?” // I must have looked confused, with more than a grin, but less than a laugh. // “Aren’t you two together?” // I said, // “No, but that would be nice.” // Minutes later, Jude Law arrived in chinos & a navy & grey striped shirt. He claimed it was black & grey, but later a man stopped us on the street to ask for a cigarette & he agreed it was navy.
The first test was easy. We made the practical portion a competition between the two of us & after glossy diplomas were handed out (even to the teacher’s pet who popped the wine too early) we went to a bar in Fenway, with wicker chairs & houndstooth floors & talked about triangles & Charles Manson. I knew I had plans: my friends were on their way to my house. He paid our tab while I rushed to call them back in the bathroom. I played it cool & invited him to my house, spent $45 on Gimlet materials & inebriated ourselves to numbed lime & a ten count of Titos.
That Wednesday night was sloppy, maybe I’m that friend people apologize in advance for, but also maybe I only hangout with those kind of people. So I apologized to him in advance, but after a few mugs of Gimlet his eyes started to roll back and he was reading me a note from his phone, a comedy sketch he is writing about a guy who is pretending to have rabies; so he doesn’t have to take a shower. That night he blew off his plans to get tacos with us & I realized that CoronaRita’s aren’t any good, at the end, when it’s mostly beer & a little mix.
We left it with a pinky promise to see each other the next day, a cigg for the road, & a head nod. To me, the pinky promise means the breaker of the promise must sever their pinky & if the rules of hard play dictate, he owes me a beer-battered fried pinky on a kaiser roll. I texted him early on Thursday asking why he wasn’t in class, didn’t hear back, & ended up singing “Dancing on My Own”, outside a bar that night with some strange girls & woke up to a donuts delivery in bed. He must have pissed my friends off too, slurring turned slur, because while waiting for a text back I argued that their opinion didn’t matter, that they didn’t quite know him like I did & I selflessly tried to force friends between two parties that seem to loath each other, the “r-word” user and the enthusiastic special needs summer camp counselors. Suddenly chummy does what chummy knows & loyalties ethos is stickier than sour mix.
Friday my friends & I smoked in the backyard, sat atop breezeblocks, passed around a notebook & each wrote a line. The first page began, “I’m not a TV, I’m a paperweight” but when my phone chimed & everyone saw Jude Law’s response, the next page began with, // “why was Jude Law’s day terrible?” // & then // “What in tarnation should Rikki say back to Jude Law?”
Saturday morning I paced out front the blue house, stiff nips & Calvins beneath a dressing robe. Hyped up that morning by my unapologetic friends I decided to take matters into my own hands & perform my dream role: Bold Woman. I texted back // “we should get a drink or three (& if you play your cards right) i’ll show you my tits.”
Hours later he responded // “uhhh what the fuck.” // I cringed, // “Too aggressive? Sorry never mind.”// He wanted to still hangout & get a drink, but wanted to make sure we are on the same page & when I asked // “what page is that?” // He didn’t respond.
Until Monday, when I was meeting with our bartending instructor, & like a fucking red string of fate he sauntered in, laughed out loud, & sat five feet behind me in the waiting room. This is when he responded. // “I just mean we are friends now” // We were both stayed for the official alcohol certification class & second test & when a break was announced, he looked at me, placed two fingers on his lips & whispered // “smoke” // I nodded but regretted my oversize sweater & baggy jeans hoping my tits still looked desirable for a special viewing.
Outside, an older women in our class pulled a pack of Parliaments out of her Louie Vuitton asked for a light, howled over the homework, boasted about her Benz & threatened to cheat off our tests because she hadn’t opened a book since college. I couldn’t tell if she was drunk, charismatic, or both. She did cheat off me & after the test I tried to sneak out, still embarrassed I even attempted to be Bold Woman. But as I walked towards the elevator he grabbed me and asked: // “Wanna get dinner?”
We ran into Cheating Woman while finding a place to eat. She wanted to know everything about us // “What’s your plan?… Oh LA in a year… how long is your grad program?… okay so you go to LA & she will meet you there in a year!…Oh you just met last Monday?… in class!?…” // After 20 minutes she lost interest in Jude & declared that I am unique & unapologetic. The three of us lit another cigg & our street corner became cinematic & I resumed my performance as Bold Woman. // “Sometimes being me get’s me into trouble.”// sickened she said // “Please elaborate.” // I knew she was going to play the part & like the sitcom script my narrative thrives in, I was talking at the woman, but really talking to Jude Law. // “Well sometimes my boldness comes across as aggressive.” // She didn’t like this one bit, didn’t like the word aggressive, said a Bold Woman knows what she wants, knows how to get it & should always demand it. Fireworks of high fives & dance parties exploded within me. Jude puffed away, barely fazed by my new illusion.
She had to fly to the Ritz, told us to road trip to the Chatham Lighthouse & get her contact information from the school. We ate wings & pulled pork, joked about assumptions & after a final cigg, got on the T & at his stop he said: // “See ya later.”
A Prose Poem and a Sestina Walk Into a Bar: Part 2
Don’t worry dishes, nobody’s doing me either
I hate to think about Jude Law again,
my attention has been consumed
temporarily to question a silly boy.
We made plans for Wednesday
but when I didn’t hear from him, I texted, “Yo
do you still want to get drinks tonight
or can I get high and dive into this Sharon Old’s book tonight?
I told myself — stop texting him first, but I did it again.
Minutes later, he responded, “Yo
sounds like you need a drink. If you aren’t consumed,
I’m down.” I shaved, unlike a typical Wednesday,
but he wore his stubble like a typical boy.
We ordered $12 cocktails then switched to pints, smoked a joint, and saw a boy
in bicycle leggings argue with a bartender for cutting him off tonight.
The bartender grunted something about it being a god-damn Wednesday.
Jude drunkenly tried to convert me to The Church of Satan, again.
He invited me back to his studio, the corner kitchen consumed
with dishes and he took out his guitar, “Yo
this wont be as impressive as my yo-yo
tricks, I can’t play very well when I’m a drunken boy.”
He gave up and we chopped potatoes, and watched oil bubbles consume
them until they matured into late-night fries and I told myself — Tonight,
you will kiss Jude Law. So I asked if I could be bold again,
a risky move for a Wednesday,
but it was early. Definitely not Wednesday
anymore, and at this hour balls practically grow on trees and, maybe, I just wanted my yo-
ni touched, so I asked, “Are you scared?” Cringing again
as he snickered, “You’re right. I’m scared. But boy,
is there a reason. Her name is Sarah and even tonight
I’m totally consumed.”
My eye roll could have curated sushi. Everyone’s had that consumed-
by-fire feeling for someone, but I couldn’t wipe my Wednesday
Addams apathy. I almost negotiated, so everyone felt like a winner tonight,
but as he cracked his knuckles to dress the futon, I thought to myself —Yo
this can’t get any weirder with this boy.
Until we high fived goodnight and slept side-by-side, not touching…again.
I snuck out early, looked back at him cuddling a pillow, but again
wondered what is it about me that leaves my body untouched by the boys,
leaves my voice only loud enough to whisper—Yo…
Rikki Angelides is a poetry MFA candidate at Emerson. She reads poetry for Redivider, lives in Boston with her marimo moss ball Wasabi, and spends a majority of her time in a drafty sunroom communicating with her people. You can read her in Empty Mirror. Find her on Twitter: @rikkiangelides.