Backyard Bonfire, Summer 1973
Sitting cross-legged on a striped beach towel, I watch steel starlight penetrate dim
metallic blue. T̶h̶r̶e̶e̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶t̶h̶s̶ ̶a̶g̶o̶,̶ ̶m̶i̶g̶r̶a̶i̶n̶e̶s̶,̶ ̶f̶o̶l̶l̶o̶w̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶i̶s̶s̶e̶d̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶i̶o̶d̶.̶A deflated
bag of half full marshmallows rests on my lap. I untwist coat hangers, flatten wire
with my palm against pavement, asphalt gravel now embedded, speckled across my
lifeline. ̶A̶n̶ ̶a̶p̶p̶o̶i̶n̶t̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶s̶c̶h̶e̶d̶u̶l̶e̶d̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶r̶i̶s̶p̶ ̶W̶e̶d̶n̶e̶s̶d̶a̶y̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶n̶i̶n̶g̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶n̶d̶l̶e̶d̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶
S̶h̶e̶r̶p̶a̶ ̶l̶i̶n̶e̶d̶ ̶c̶o̶a̶t̶.̶ He places in each log, splintered, drenched in Propane, then last
week’s yellowing newspaper. ̶P̶a̶p̶e̶r̶w̶o̶r̶k̶,̶ ̶b̶l̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶d̶r̶a̶w̶n̶,̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶k̶s̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶t̶h̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶i̶p̶s̶,̶ ̶p̶a̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶
g̶r̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶s̶t̶i̶c̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶s̶l̶i̶c̶k̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶g̶h̶s̶,̶ ̶D̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶C̶,̶ ̶s̶p̶o̶o̶n̶ ̶s̶h̶a̶p̶e̶d̶ ̶r̶o̶d̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶s̶s̶e̶d̶ ̶c̶o̶l̶d̶ ̶a̶g̶a̶i̶n̶s̶t̶ ̶m̶e̶.̶
He lights a match. The fire glows, heavy in humid air. Embers spark, threatening to
land on my sweat slick thighs. ̶A̶ ̶d̶e̶f̶l̶a̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶h̶o̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶b̶o̶t̶t̶l̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶l̶a̶p̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶
s̶t̶a̶l̶e̶ ̶l̶i̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶r̶o̶o̶m̶.̶ ̶H̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶e̶s̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶k̶n̶o̶w̶,̶ ̶s̶t̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶s̶ ̶I̶ ̶h̶a̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶l̶u̶.̶ He sits behind me, legs
spread. I lean in, head resting on his broad chest; lips graze my ear, whiskers sharp
on my cheek. My teeth clench. ̶H̶e̶ ̶a̶l̶w̶a̶y̶s̶ ̶w̶a̶n̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶o̶n̶. Breathing in copper smoke, I
hand him the bag of marshmallows, a hanger.
Nicole Moore works as a freelance writer and is a MFA in Writing student at Spalding University's School of Creative and Professional Writing. Her works have been previously published in Hooligan Magazine and Femini Magazine.
I trudge along 23rd, sandals clicking on cracked
cement, sidestepping a man sprawled on splintered
porch steps, whiskers coarse, face pockmarked, caked
in sweat, leering, growling, “Girl,
you got a fat ass.” Quickening my step, I tug
at my cuffed cutoffs, pulling frayed fabric
down to better cover curved edges. I trudge
along 24th, feet blisters beginning to bubble, sidestepping
a man, blond curls fastened into a loose bun, handing
out neon pink flyers. I squeak out, “I’m not interested.
Thank you.” He tells me to take one
anyway. I take one anyway, black ink
bleeding onto my fingertips. He tells me I have a nice
smile. I trudge along 25th, humid air weighted
like hot stones, smearing my caked
foundation. I finally make it to the cafe, order
an iced coffee, condensation dripping
down my wrist. I sit at an empty table. A man,
bearded, balding, begins to pull out
the chair across from me, asking if I could use some company.
I squeak out, “I’m not interested. Thank you.”
He calls me a fat bitch.
Don’t Call Me Exotic
White Faces with Colonizer Gaze:
I am not
your flaring Calla Lily torn
from silk soft soil, stems
cut, placed in a crystal vase until
petals wilt, bract browns.
I am not
your Golden Pheasant cloaked
in orange feathers to be held captive,
screeching in a wire cage, cloaked
in artificial light as your morning soaps play.
I am not
your Russian Boar, bristles erect, belly
slit, ribs ripped, skin shredded, head
mounted above the mantle,
glass eyes glazed.
I am not