The Kids Who Moved Away
Long before social media
and internet searches,
there were the derelict desks
whose occupants had
vanished like the Roanoke colonists.
Tendrils of classroom cliffhangers
wrapped around each void:
Did Tanya graduate from her frog voice?
Did David forgo flood pants?
Did Kim snap Polaroids in Nairobi?
You imagined faces frozen by memory
in places spied only in picture books,
limbs scurrying through cryptic crawlspaces
in strange suburbs with choice chances,
and suddenly you felt
fettered by familiarity.
With thick thumbs, he squeezed
squishy blobs of adipose matter
under darkly graying trails of fur,
the pudginess she’d playfully poked
and called “panza,”
curved like a cantaloupe,
but far less appetizing
to eyes converted to the cult of
especially since the gut
protruded past upon the pelvis.
He’d always been large,
accumulating lipids the way a hoarder
a hapless persona non grata,
weight wavering up and down like
the mean kids jumping rope
while stinging him with singsong slurs.
Tonight he declared war upon
a sequence of waist sizes
n shocking crescendo,
swapping samosas for SlimFast
and pecan pie for a desperate prayer.
The Evening My Libido Died
Like the last gasps of sap
slipping out of gnarled bark,
the drops of desire suddenly disappeared
along with the workweek
on a drizzly Friday evening
whilst the Catholics were baking cod au gratin.
Was this yielded by years careering
toward the half-century signpost?
Had I grunted and groaned out
all the climaxes on my copulation card,
duly dismissed with a cordial
“game over, thanks for playing”?
Was it due to decades
of dumbfounding dilemmas
over who made it harder–
him or her?
Or was it the result of repetitive romps
with casuals who’d come
and bolted before the KY had dried?
For a time I attempted the tried-and-true–
the porn, the pics, the pulling,
but nothing negated
this new numbness in my groin or
the Rip Van Winkle-like slumber
of acquired asexuality.
The + Sign
The + sign is supposed to elicit smiles-
an A+ on a report card gets you a king-size Crunch bar;
Economy+ means you’ll be slightly less cramped
in a spine-killing, knee-torturing seat on a flying bus.
But when + is scribbled next to “HIV,”
your heartbeat approaches the absurd rhythm of wind-up chattering teeth
as the tangerine-haired bespectacled counselor
surrounded by sensational STD posters,
delivers the spiel in his nasal monotone-
“early detection…not a death sentence…
never miss a dose…viral load…
T-cells…condoms…diet and exercise…
support group…Ryan White Act…
notify partners…disclosure to authorities…
information to read…forms to fill out”
while your 27-year-old mind spins out like a disastrous driver at the Daytona 500;
you wonder whether you should tell Mom and Dad at Sunday dinner
between the asparagus and the rolls that Dad calls biscuits,
whether that marigold-shaped mole under your left armpit is Kaposi’s Sarcoma,
whether that single unproductive cough is PCP,
whether your inability to remember the name of your lab partner at Magnolia Junior High is dementia,
whether the program crafted to pay for your pills will someday dry out like a birdbath in Tucson,
whether that same lifelong antiretroviral chemotherapy will burden you with a buffalo hump or
sunken cheeks or worse
or be as useless as tits on a boar,
whether everyone at Starbucks or Home Depot or the post office can tell that you’re
that you’d become “disabled” merely by saying yes during an episode of depression-fueled boredom to a bareback quickie at the Comfort Inn,
whether the dreamboat dentist scheduled to plane your gums next Tuesday will still treat you,
whether anyone will ever screw you or hug you
or love you again,
whether, after cruising through that confusing collage of crushing considerations,
you even possess the strength to slay millions of sinister microscopic spheres studded with protein spikes
because rent for your studio apartment still needs to be paid.
Adrian Slonaker currently works as a copywriter and copy editor in Urbandale, Iowa, USA. Adrian’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and has appeared in Queen Mob’s Tea House, Pangolin Review, Credo Espoir, Algebra of Owls, Avatar Review and others.