The woman sitting in the tilted wooden chair with turquoise flecks

thinks of herself as a girl still

silly, delusion, blanched tea cup made on some retreat 10 years ago

a chip in the lip, smell of falafel in the air

her mother made these things

with her ringed fingers chilled, no central heating

sunlight wan in basement flat, scarcity

before yellow paint and

an inside washer.

Thinks of herself as a girl still

silly, delusion, rolling aniseed balls in her mouth, boys said; “I like your big lips”

in a way that was sticky and ugly, she climbed

higher in the tree, the sound of someone crying

a street over, when she dialed her grandmother

the crossed-line in French, a woman lamenting

her husband cheated, listening rapt

distracted by the crossed-line like a Telenovela

old porn mags fluttered beneath the tree

caught on pavement curb like


Thinks of herself as a girl still

silly, delusion, her hair had been cut and dyed black, she wore a thriftstore Sari

GenY boots, Garbage played as he poured liquor into his eyes

the tab of acid flickering on his forked tongue, he said: Stay still it won’t

take long, the sting of the needle, ink entering her pores

it will be with me forever, she thought, chewing hangnail

the girl behind her had a pierced navel, she played

with a collection of bangles on her wrists covering

scars, the tattooist changes ink cartridges, clicking

turning the volume up, tinted windows misting

her home printer seems

perennially on the fritz

it only prints regret, blurred photos.

Thinks of herself as a girl still

silly, delusion, there she is, half in focus, half out

falling between lines, crushing dismissal

a soliloquy, poignant in repose, old lyrics

eating too much butter on cheap toast

unfilled emptiness, neon bulbs, toilet chains

the damp vigor of eternity, brittle before dawn

faces glistening with salt and light, thin mattresses

lost year, beach somewhere, Winter, they are bracing

against the cold, that year it didn’t let up, nobody had

enough spare change to call


15 Replies to “Scarcity”

  1. I fell into, not a rabbit hole, but a time warp to a different world when spare change to call home was a question for boys and girls.

  2. There’s something powerful about the imperfect character of the past.

  3. Happy birthday dearest Bob 🎂🎉🎂🎉🎂🥳🥳🎉🎂🥳🎂🎉🥳🎉🎂🥳🎂🥳🥳🥳🎂

  4. Right? I think it speaks to the – otherwise hard to describe – feeling of the past and how it isn’t accurate, but isn’t entirely wrong either.

  5. Funny to think one day nobody will have had this experience! I have a fondness for obsolete things and those imperfections that at the time may have been annoying but are now rarefied?

  6. Indeed. I can think of a few significant events in my life that involved a pay phone, for instance. Or, my then father-in-law and my grandmother (who grew up in nearby neighborhoods) remembering things like horse drawn beer wagons and such. Even the pager that ruled my on-call life just 20 years ago is now a museum item.

  7. Oh my goodness, it’s brilliant and funny to be old enough to remember redundancies and have passionate stories around them. I know what you mean. I had a pager, I was too young for it to be work related as by the time I was at work they were bringing out mobile phones, but I did have one as a teen – like many did – I saved up for it with my weekend jobs and thought it was incredible, now of course it seems absurd, cumbersome. I recall leaving messages for people passionately through the medium of the operator. I often thought how romantic that was but for the poor operator it must have been maddening.

  8. I imagine that now the moderators and watchdogs of the various social media platforms are now in that maddening position with the messages of teenagers, especially those going in and out of romance, real and imagined.

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