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by Gaby Garcia

In the Sopranos theme song,

my exit goes by. It’s a twenty-four

hour fever—quick. North Jersey,

all gray linen landscapes drenched

in daylight—passenger seat sex

while the dentist office opens

down the road. Moms making

good French toast. People get rich,

it happens. Especially if you like

to gnaw soft things like land

or a boy’s shoulder or a kaleidoscope

from your childhood bedroom.

We’re all bloody. My jeans are all

bloody. The construction crew

haunts the freeway, gotta be

a mob thing how that one piece

of route 22 is always coned off.

I used to fuck with my whole

broken self—a version of freedom

sick and bright. In the right season,

we’re all free and soggy and missing

the city, each other, the liminal grab-bag

life from a clearance bin, fuchsia t-shirts

at the Livingston mall—followed

by security guards at Short Hills.

Grab that Snapple from the fridge

on the way out the pizza place

and let it condense on your wrist.

Shoplift a mascara. Hand me

the nine-dollar vodka. It’s a party here

in the deepest bruise of the Northeast,

where blood can’t pool without becoming

a cartoon. The men—they’re so hungry.

They own ladders to put up Christmas lights,

tangled wounds. That’s what we call beauty

in the motherland, the deep land,

the home home home, say it enough

and it’s true, the prettiest relic in the museum

and isn’t it a shame we live in a museum

and isn’t it a shame this contradiction,

this pile of leaves, zip up your fleece,

backyard heaven shaped liked wild,

roll up your sleeves, walk to school,

everyone is changed, aching for someone

to fray our tender wires. Look up. It’s rainy.

The pharmacy is open and the three nail salons

are mirroring each other in brutal femininity.

Come peel open in the quiet. Come raise the price

of a three-bedroom colonial. Chafe your freedom

against the dull edges of sunlight marked by wind

and earth that will not tame, no matter

how many neighbors cull it clean.

Gaby Garcia is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose work has appeared in North American Review, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She is a Ricardo Salinas Scholarship recipient and served as a Teaching Fellow at Columbia University, where she received her MFA in poetry. She lives in Brooklyn.

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