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.