Daredevil always, I took mine off first:
elbowed out of my shirt, shimmied from my skirt,
unshouldered my bra, dropped my panties—all
my garb tossed defiantly to the porch floor—
thus, stark in my naked geometry I stood,
shivering behind our trellised bougainvillea,
as Sunday cars sharked along Hermosa Avenue.
“Your turn,” I began, but you’d already fled
behind the front door with your devising friend
who clutched my clothing to her chest.
I heard the latch snap loudly in its groove,
then your footsteps fanning out to other rooms,
as wildly you locked every entry to our house.
Sister, the sizzling curses I spit out that day
strung you up and quartered you until you bled
throughout eternity like a slaughtered pig.
Never had newly borne words tasted so true or good:
Traitor! Sewer-slut! Scorpion shit! Shrew-lips!
I stood, one forearm smothering my breasts,
the other hand cupped over that darkened place
no eyes but mine had ever grazed before—
I called upon the gods of domestic revenge,
jazzy gods, bug-zappers, the gods of execution—
until my laughter overcame me like thunder.
I wept, roared, choked on my nascent fury:
what a sight I offered to wide-eyed drivers
who circled the block once, twice, and again
to see the girlish apparition of mottled flesh
screaming out lungsful of invective.
When I grew hoarse, you let me back in.
Too late: my smoking voice lingered on the air,
my oaths lodged upon the vines—ruby-eyed,
razor-toothed, almost divine.
previously appeared in What Will Suffice: Contemporary American Poets
on the Art of Poetry, edited by Christopher Buckley and Christopher Merrill
(Gibbs Smith, 1995).