by Robin C. (Portland, Oregon)



You came to me with your heart on your sleeve

But it turned out to be one of those cheap appliqués

That you got in a machine in the grocery store.

You wanted the skull and crossbones

But the large woman and her large children

Put their money in first.

The skull came bouncing down the chute in its plastic womb

And you secretly claimed it as yours as she grabbed it with hands like shovels

Promising to give it to one of her burgeoning kin.

But it was yours all along, wasn’t it

Hopes dashed

You inserted your last quarter into the sticky rickety slot hoping that maybe

The growling tiger was manly

Or even the horse with its mane of silver thread and golden hooves

Or the hula girl whose skirt wasn’t quite short enough

But no.

You got the red heart, lined in white velvet

The bloated and secretive heart that you thought was only for girls.

Your mother probably sewed it there to your sleeve with great care and prowess

Small stitches with delicate thread, hoping that it would stay through

Your adventures with women, hoping it would be of good use

As you ventured the world on stilts made of newsprint and wax.


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