Emily Kendal Frey




Things Were Just as Bad


Things were just as bad as someone said

they would be. There was a goat, and a hill,

and a bad bus driver with a plan. It was the town's

job to absorb the losses, or build a new well.

It was a place wearing cat eyes. A woman

walking by the general store tripped on a stone

that reminded her of her mother's face. It was all

very textured, like a mask that makes your face sweat.




Recurring Sex Dream Involving Don Cheadle


I'm in the men's locker room and I've just finished working out. I take my clothes off. They are wet. It's showertime! "Time to hit the showers," etc. I see a lot of guys going into a steam room, a line of white towels, marching forward. I enter after them and Don Cheadle is there. We're alone. Sweat pools in the middle of his chest. I notice that his towel is tenting against his skin and I move it aside—he's not really acknowledging me, but I get the head of it in my mouth—it feels like a warm doorknob or worn piano key. This is some kind of victory!






What we do exists

now more than ever

in delay. Half-there.


We're under a strobe

only the light won't blink

back on. Dark crosses


our faces in slats.

You keep making jokes,

twirling the straw


in your watery drink.

A sign above the bar reads

Go home. It's late.


But not so late that we'd

consider leaving. We've

stopped going home.


I'm fixed on you,

waiting for a ripple

or an emanation.


No use. Through

your shirt I can see

the plastic outline, bent


like a flamingo

in your fake lawn chest.

Where things used to live

it's dead.




It Fits Inside


Dear Jalapeno,

Dear Stadium,

Dear Stripes—

We stood out like mechanics

in the moonlight.

We had the old ones

in dirges

of even verticals.

We replaced the missing

spokes and pinwheels.

Dear Horoscope,

It's a deal.

Dear Easter,

Dear Western,

Dear Horizon,

Dear Enough—

The circus

is the anteroom.

It's coming through.




Morning Glory


Dear Jalapeno,

Dear Kin—

Do the insects meet

with your approval?

Chairs arranged

with their backs like that?

Dear Tine,

Dear Cucumber—

May I brush the top

of your postal code?

Move it just a little

toward a yes or a no?

Dear BBQ,

Dear Enlightenment—

If you can tap into

my Betsy Ross

I'll drape it all across you

like skin.

Believe me,

Dear Pheromones,

Distillation makes

the purest elixir.




Around the Block


Dear Jalapeno,

Dear Cay—

I do not have a baby.

I have cilantro.

I have giant redundant

boulders of hope.

Dear Warehouse,

Dear Joint,

Dear Reef—

Time is a long time.

Will you wait,

Dear Locus?

Dear Disaster,

Move faster.

Dear Tamed Beast,

Dear Cornfield,

Dear Meat—

I misread the label.

You're not what

I ordered.