Pinpoint of yellow covers a blemish,
eyelash primer boosts 3-D mascara
on blended color eyes. Blazing Lava
highlights smiling lips.
Three outfits later, I stand at the mirror,
reflect on each strand of hair
and reasons to be nervous, afraid
of being fat and old and ugly in your eyes.
Five years ago I dated a married man
with the knowledge and consent of his wife.
An offense no one has forgiven,
better to have cheated than to have been
polyamorous in their minds.
Nine years after the divorce, I still dress
for you, not for praise or sex appeal
but to avoid judgement. Caring what you think
a habit after twenty-three years, something
to remind myself I once loved you.
Arriving at a party too early to make an entrance,
too late to be first, I speak to one of the two
people who still like me and wait for your arrival
wondering what your new wife is wearing,
aware she loved you without my knowledge
I force them to say something, one disapproval
at a time, waiting, waiting, waiting …
did I use too much hairspray, too much makeup,
too much, too much, too much and yet
you never come and I spend most of the evening
sitting alone, trying to look relevant and contrite.
Flotsam in the Kitchen Sink
He works, his sons work, his wife walked out.
The boys sleep on sagging floors with protruding nails,
he sleeps on a sofa with cushions that gave up a lifetime ago.
Dreams gurgle from reeking brown water.
Daybreak brings an afflictive sun, spilling over the sides
of the blackened kitchen sink, another day of not enough.
Plunge, pump, push – he forces through crowds,
part of something larger than eight to five and mortgages
on paper thin walls and crumbled stairs.
He lives within the lines. His boys stay within borders
that protect them from stray bullets and bullying gangs
of other boys who also sleep on floors but hide
in chemical dreams, float above the underbelly in reprieve.
I would tell you I love you,
if I were the sort to mutter sentimentalities
or to make yesterday’s lover feel guilty.
Instead, I’m going to tell you your new girlfriend
is a cunt. I’ve never used that word
in precisely that way but I’ve always wanted to.
It fits, even if I don’t really understand
why that’s the worst thing we can think of to call
the women who replace us or why we call
When we’re in love, cunt and cock sucking
are terrific words packed with possibilities.
And what the fuck? What do you mean
you don’t feel the same? As when? Yesterday?
We never know what happened,
those of us who are left when lovers
love someone new or maybe one we always knew
but never imagined would be the one?
And there’s always “a one.” Relationships
never last. Somebody will leave somebody
one way or another, but it doesn’t make it
any easier to know that, specially this evening
after dinner and a movie, when you said We need to talk
and your eyes finished the sentence.
Sheri Gabbert is a substitute teacher living in the Missouri Ozarks with her miniature schnauzer, Rilke. Her work has been published in Moon City Review (2011/2017), new graffiti, The Quotable, Rat’s Ass Review (Love & Ensuing Madness and Such an Ugly Time, issue and anthology), Communicator’s League, Drunk Monkeys, Serving House Journal, 417Magazine, Street Buzz, and The Lawrence County Record.