My Brother Gives Me Advice
Tea spouts into the teacup, spilling over. Anya pours cognac for my brother,
her husband, and we all toast to his birthday. Even so, Dima leaves
to meet his mistress, napoleon cake half eaten on his plate. Years ago, sober,
my brother told me two things:
1. You make sacrifices for your family.
2. If you're a lesbian then you’re not my sister.
—the giant blue gems on my niece's jeans are a mass of cool hard tears—
his children want to go home. Anya is a grey-faced clock, clears dishes.
Mama takes cake to the neighbors and doesn't think my advice worthwhile
since I know nothing about men.
Sitting on the couch, I rest my hand on my father's. He doesn't turn to me.
We sit like this for a long time.
He stares past the TV. I remember the two daughters he left behind.
He never writes to them and never asks me about love.
Girls gone missing do not want poems
when they are closing up alone Rattling
gate, same late night shift, sharp key they
keep between one finger and the next in case
They do not care about the wet dust left on
the rag, color of first bleed, mud
on a boot Gone girls will leave
a cast iron oiled and lit from underneath until
smoke comes Gone girls never mind
smoke, they lock hands and spin
until a light sparks because they are
fast and when they fall they fall anywhere
locked down rock club Prospect Park
two blocks from a brownstone walkup basin
at the edge of the boardwalk
the train station and the street, outside
Dunkin' Donuts on Coney Island Ave
from Without Protection
Sophomore year, college, I’m the grey skirt that trails behind me, ripping open. Coral
ring left in my mailbox from a woman I’ve never fucked and am trying to forget. Days
open, close bone-cold. My mentor left me her book at her deathbed: A Family Of
Strangers. I ruin it sloppy crying.
Beatrice, Dusty writes, You’re mine, like she’s Dante. It’s Myspace, she says whatever
she wants. Once I watched her prance a field, topless, in goat pants: Pan. Now we haunt
the internet. It works like this: we know each other’s moans before we know each other’s
mouths. We build a citadel out of expectation. She sends me her shirt rank with sweat and
amber oil. I keep it under my pillow, huff it in my sleep. Webcam on, I brace my leg on
Three-hour plane ride from New York to Austin, bouquet of long stemmed lollipops
bright stained glass in my lap. She’s wearing a tight 70’s white linen pantsuit. Her hair’s
tinged with blue. We kiss and it’s clumsy, sweet. Her small black truck bumps and speeds
against the Texas afternoon. We corral our breaths and feign shyness, broncs in a bucking
Somebody is singing Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,”
badly, sort of shrill and declarative.
I’m working on nothing
waiting for my lover
who is not always kind to me but,
and this is Lesley Gore’s ghost coming on,
I’m young and I want to be loved.
When you are sleeping with someone
more accomplished, your name is Yes.
I’m the beaded curtain jangling and parted on the reading stage.
Why is it here? What is the purpose of
beads? Oh, and this is… um. Yes. Tacky.
GALA MUKOMOLOVA Gala received her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. Her work has been published in the Indiana Review, Drunken Boat, PANK, and others. Monthly, she transforms into an astrologer called Galactic Rabbit. Lots of people believe in her.