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Glen Armstrong

Zorine, Queen of the Nudists #17

Stealing, fighting, listening 

to music with the distinct goal 

of becoming part of a scene . . .

some activities lend themselves 

to protective clothing,  

some its ritualized removal.

Riding a motorcycle, engaging 

a lover whose needs were shaped 

long ago by a shoe, a thin 

leather belt, a silk promise made

through a keyhole where 

a fragment... . There’s a world 

out there that the bare 

body rarely escapes.

Good Neighbor #9

I get through the morning as if threading a needle. It requires persistence and reading glasses. At noon the city tests their tornado alarms, and I still miss you.

The weather can change in a heartbeat, on a dime. Our metaphors tend toward blood and money. 

I could take up gardening or read Moby Dick, let some other slow process take over. I could do the dishes or look for the attachments that would let me vacuum the blinds. At two o’clock the mail comes. At five I will find something from the freezer to heat up for dinner.

Basic French

Example: I like the blue dress. 

Or: I spend the rest of the night

licking Suzanne.

I love being nineteen

years old and painting my lips.

Example: red.

Or: the color of young corn.

If one thinks, one tends

to exist,

but if one thinks deeply,

one tends 

to lose oneself in thought.

Example: The blue belongs 

to the dress.

Or: The night’s remainder

belongs to the night,

even as it melts

like butter on toast.

Suzanne’s blue dress

belongs to Suzanne even 

when the two become separate.

Does the blue belong to Suzanne?

There is no single word

that covers the concept

of butter together

with toast.

If one involves one’s mouth,

one tends to think.

One’s head entertains

the first word that pops.

Example: eating.

Or: breakfast.

Or: corn.

Can I give my mouth to Suzanne?

Does one’s head entertain?

Example: internally.

Or: vocabulary.

I would rather make

than do.

Both are preferable

to making do,

merely getting by.

Suzanne is getting less

blue and getting more

the color of Suzanne

in a dimly lit room.

Example: the color of smoke.

Or: moonlight.

Does the color belong

to smoke or Suzanne?

And what of upon or in?

Example: inviting.

Or: begging.

The egg,

though far from perfectly round,

rolls from the counter

to the floor.

Or: smashing.

Try to imagine Suzanne

belonging to the vernacular.

Or: facing.

A person, place, or object.

Example: blue dress.

Or: That is a smashing

blue dress.

Have I seen it before?

The dress is of

the dresses.

The rest belongs to the night.

The rest is both 

sleep and everything

that we haven’t yet covered.

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three current books of poems: Invisible Histories, The New Vaudeville, and Midsummer. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit, and Cream City Review.

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