you’ve just about had enough of me—
I’ll be gone two days
before you call me,
before you call me a flake,
before you call me a bitch.
And in two months or so,
I’ll “happen” to run into you someplace,
and I’ll be a lot nicer, for a little longer,
and this time
you’ll get clear to “fucking bitch”
in thirty seconds because
your bank accounts are cleaned out
and now you know you were always
never going to see me again.
Girl in the Full Metal Jacket
Don’t look for an angel in the girl
who leaves blistered fingerprints on my back,
self-possessed by a personal demon,
this ink-sheathed, scar-savvy
girl in the full metal jacket—
she does a shot and I’m drunk,
plays with knives and I’m cut,
crashes and I’m burned—
but scars are cool,
and I’m desperate to wear her marks forever.
The Magician’s Assistant Throws Down on the Slut Shamers
Every magic show needs
(besides magic) at least two things:
That’s where I come in.
Peril and danger aren’t the same.
Danger is indefinite—
something bad out there
might get me. Maybe.
But Peril is:
fatal barring rescue.
But no one rescues me.
I’m locked in a box,
the magician holds a saw
above my belly…and…
and why do you care?
Because (and only because)
that belly is a lean, delicate,
helplessly-exposed, sexy girl-belly.
Watch: I lie down on the magic table.
The magician ties my wrists,
runs straps around me,
encloses me in a box. Padlocks it.
He pins my neck in the box’s
exactly-sized stage-right opening.
He pins my ankles in the box’s two
exactly-sized stage-left openings.
My daintily arched feet at one end,
my beautiful face at the other,
my dark, brilliant hair washing over
the table’s edge. The saw…
Peril—that long, breathless moment just after
I am made willingly helpless and just before…
Before things get real. What if it’s really real?
How sure would you have to be before
you’d stop pretending and rescue me?
Let’s find out:
“Gentlemen, this is not a trick.”
Is your heart beating faster yet?
Explicit (belly versus saw),
Time-limited (any second),
Inescapable (tied, boxed, locked), and
Fatal barring rescue (by you).
Now: do I panic, struggle, scream? Hardly.
Watch him saw me in half.
Go ahead. I dare you.
I dare you to look me in the eye
while he does it.
I dare you not to rescue me.
I double-dare you.
And you won’t rescue me. Because
(I’ll whisper): you don’t want to.
Because I’m not the pretty
good-girl you want to save—
I’m the sexy bad-girl, and you want to watch
while I get what’s coming to me. (Well, bad-girls
who go around with magicians get sawn in half.
What does she expect? I mean, really.)
(And girl, you are totally dressed like a slut.
In front of an audience.
In front of a magician. With a saw.
Seriously, you don’t know any better?)
And besides, it’s a trick, right?
She doesn’t really get hurt. It’s just a trick.
So it’s okay to lean forward and stare.
She can’t fool us.
Oh, can’t she? The magician slides the saw
into the fatal slot, presses down,
and pulls, and pushes, over and over,
and I scream, and I bleed, and I die. For reals!
(And, oh, what you see when he pulls the box apart.)
And you’re shocked, horrified, you thought
it was a trick (sure you did), just a trick!
But your heart’s beating faster than ever now,
isn’t it? Pounding. Hammering.
The curtain sweeps closed
and you’re staring, gasping, shaking,
your heart slams into your throat,
your stomach hits the bottom like a rock.
Your heart won’t slow down for a week.
You’ll dream about me forever,
and every single time,
you’ll tremble and sweat like a panicky horse.
Whew! You like?
Sex, peril…punishment. Magical, huh?
(Well, it’s her own fault. Nobody forced
her to get in the box, now did they?)
But: behind the curtain the magician
rejoins the two pieces of the box, unlocks it,
and offers his hand. I sit up, swing my still-connected
legs over the side of the table, and stand.
My belly is as smooth and perfect as can be.
But you don’t want me alive.
I knew it the minute you bought your ticket.
Because, what fun would that be?
But bad-girl punished? Bad-girl dead?
That’s the most fun ever!
No? Really? So… (I’ll whisper):
what’s that wet spot on your fly?
Did it just get there by magic?
John Wiley started out as a ballet dancer and began writing poetry when his knees finally gave out for good. He lives in a small beach town in California and works in his wife’s audiology practice.