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John Benditt in conversation with Nancy Pearl - University Bookstore Wednesday, February 25th, 7:00pm
Letters to a Shithead Friend
Letters to a Shithead Friend
I broke a glass this morning, and it reminded me of you, sprawled out on the kitchen tiles. I have been trying to call you for a year and a half. My neighbors keep attempting to sell my garbage cans at the flea market, and my shoes keep disappearing in the night. You want the truth?—mostly I am writing angry poems, hoping your teeth will fall out.
Sky blue is a stupid color. I don’t care what burlesque girls have to do with pinball, you are still a shithead. I put a magnet over your face on the picture of us on my fridge. Your attempt at communicating with me via crossword puzzle is lame. I’m sure you can think of something better than that, like skywriting or a parade of circus elephants.
I received the bouquet of balloons and have already popped them all. My long needle for sewing leather purses worked best for that. I draped the broken rubber parts over my houseplants and sang “Happy Birthday” to myself while chain smoking unfiltered cigarettes.
PS. I can’t understand you when you talk with your fingers in your mouth.
The ten kittens did not impress. I let them loose around the neighborhood and got complaints. Now I have to go to a neighborhood coalition meeting and explain the whole situation to them, about the failed skywriting, and what a total shithead you are, and how I Magic-Marker all over your letters and send them to the children’s wing of the local hospital to cheer up the cancer patients.
Please stop. I got sick off the cotton candy at the county fair I went to with the tickets you sent me. Let’s face the golden cloth-ed trumpeters, you’re not going to win me over like this. I am tired of being angry. Not lions nor zebras nor cobras nor mongooses. No soda fountains. I can’t touch your new jacket—don’t mail it.
I have been in touch with an old lover. He has propositioned me. I don’t have an apology, he said. He said, I would have moved to Iowa with you if I had known about the tornados. He is driving a motorbike here posthaste. He said, Sidecar, tomato, bulgur wheat, bumblebee. I’ve picked up aviator glasses and a leather dolly. Good luck finding me oceanside.
Your perseverance is stupid, because I don’t like you anymore. I was just telling my dentist about the peppermints you left lining my porch railing. Luckily, they did not rot my teeth because I fed them to the local roosters. My old lover and I are building a boat to sail to Cuba. I am a tiny communist with sunburned shoulders. We are leaving our apologia under the southernmost boulder.
I have joined the ballet. Water from the secret piscina baptizes my esophagus. I am cleaner than you.
I can’t express how much anger I feel towards you. After my stag leaps through the open-air courtyard, and jumping on the rusty box spring of the used bed my old lover bought me. Let alone the frustration for getting me kicked out of Cuba. Back off. I left you a roll of pennies to throw at the pigeons by the fountain, so go use them. My watercolor class meets in an hour and I don’t have time to stroll the boardwalk backwards with you.
P.S. My lazy eye will always watch the plum dish—don’t even think about it.
Rebecca Lehmann grew up on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula, and has since lived in Iowa and Florida. Her poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Indiana Review and other journals, and she has been an Artist in Residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is a PhD Candidate in English/Creative Writing at Florida State University.