Alana Merritt Mahaffey

excerpts from ďAttractionĒ

(from the section ďAll is FairĒ)

87. (M_______/Early Spring, 96)

My M________, when you
lift yourself from the
professorís raisin body,
(feeling the cold of his
wedding ring on your inner thigh)
is it still Mencken and Oates
he recites, or something
sweeter? He works the
circumstance cautiously while
you wrap hollow legs
around could haves.
Like a black widow
you spin threads around truth,
subdue and shoot the venom in,
let it liquefy.
     You suck fetid love
from a carcass; he
wraps you carefully
and hangs your shell
like a trophy.

104. (T________/Late Fall, 1996)

So I tell you itís okay this time
because youíre tall, and
your wife thinks
Iím a bitch and your teacher
is as pretty as you say, and
itís borderline romantic,
so I wish it could be me
you were kissing, but,
her lipstick is already thereó
the hieroglyph of 5 minutes
across her office couch.
She says sex with you
is a B++ (better
than him) and she doesnít
know or want to know
that Iím the repository
for your play-by-play accounts.
     This time I tell you itís okay,
and pile this secret in a box with others
because you trust me, love me,
(more than both of them) and I
swear not to tell, already
having pinned you
in a poem.

66. (Mr. _____________/Spring, 94)

At the chalkboard you boast
Dickens and/or Dixon, but
I burn like Ms. Havisham
for the boy who dropped
two days ago, and I never
knew his name. In the library,
you come from behind,
pointing to the clock, 11:05,
then soft like a snake charmer
itís your palm moving
to the small of my back;
I constrict and
imagine my hands
like piranha, then
the reaction of a dean
who wonít know.
     Your hand curves a
trail to my leg. I
strike like a cobra.

(from the section ďAlmostĒ)

212. (Unknown bookstore clerk/Late Summer, 99)

$11.27 and I imagine your arms
sliding around me and the slow burial like
a crocodile on his belly
into the river at dusk.
I give you money, exact change, and touch
as much of your hand . . . A green M&M
leaps from the pocket on my backpack,
rolls across the counter,
and, joking, I say you can have it.
     And, joking, you throw it onto your tongue
like candy-coated sex, but I melt. When
eyes meet like this,
I donít care about clichť.

230. (S_________/Early Winter, 99)

Your girlfriend thinks Iím nice
and I am but I want to
borrow you, long hair
and legs and lips like
Dietrich; you sing
love-me-true songs on stage
like a Siren, like a Saint,
and the lights flash
blue then red then blue
against your skin;
your fingernails, too long,
scratch on the guitarís strings.
     We hug goodnight like girls
who are friends and blow
kisses that should
have been planted.

233. (G____________/Winter, 00)

Ice again and my coat lost its button,
but one compliment in passing and
I dream of you that night. Reef
shoulders (smooth) and skin as
white as Florida sand, I
stretch like beach waiting
for wave after wave, for anxious
tide to come in and out and
in again, for the spray of salt
that carries me out and under.


stringfellowC7.jpg (24156 bytes)J. C. Stingfellow