Monday, December 29, 2014
Three Poems by Fain Rutherford
He wakes naked on the wet metal chair,
breathing inside the pillowcase hood,
wrists tied with her nonsense-colored scarves.
She wants him to say it.
She wants what she wants.
She wants it all.
He says nothing.
So she jerks off the hood, and he blinks in the light.
Her furrowed forehead concerned at his silence.
She'd rather not hurt him, but she will if she must.
She wants to hear it.
She wants what she wants.
She wants it right now.
So she throws the switch on that voltaic smile
somehow hooked up to his limbic insides.
From scrotum to scalp his subdural wiring
twitches and hums. Vision tunnels. Belly cramps.
Then, in a sudden incontinent whoosh,
the gut-heated words spill out over his chest,
and puddle embarrassed on the floor. Maybe now
she'll turn off that terrible grin. Now that
She has what she wants.
She has it all.
She has it forever.
All-seeing from an unseen spit,
it lights the cells for a bed check
every four point eight seconds.
No one has tunneled out.
As olfactory torture that leaves
no marks, it passes the squamous
gas of intertidal decay, boiled up
in the offal bucket of the bay
from the scaly remains of long dead lifers.
Based on reliable penal research,
it tunes an occasional cloacal drone
to the pitch proven best to rattle the teeth
and ruin the sleep of the newly convicted.
Down the dirt path to Housekeeping
she walks unequally like one leg's
too long, mandatory nametag
magnetized on the custodial blue
below her wide, new world smile.
Behind her, by imported palms,
holiday bikini banter floats on a layer of self-
assurance above the warm salt pool. Pink
skin stretched and exposed like fresh-
flayed hide staked out to dry.
One arm seems longer too, hanging unjointed
from the tilted shoulder, ending in a shallow,
"flesh tone" bucket split in half, butt like,
by a divider handle. It's the "flesh tone" of skin
after embalming--of skin under bikinis.
Thin-limbed, canvas-tanned women under
the ramada flutter the buffet for the third
time since breakfast. They're "grazing"--
a recent innovation in calorie limitation.
With their saucer-sized shades,
they look like desert flies on cow flop.
The bucket is heavy with cleansers used on one-
per-cent porcelain after bucket-colored asses
have lifted off and left for classes called
"abs and glutes," "zen zumba" or "yin yoga."
The smooth whiteness cleaned enough for
the tanned women to graze from on their return.
The other shoulder rides up toward her ear,
arm encircling a drooping poinsettia, green-
potted with red foil and bow. Too wilted now
to serve any longer as the arid resort's
tepid gesture of the season to confident guests.
Its exhaustion now potentially offensive.
So the tired token lurches away toward a day off
with toys-for-tots, donated clothes and
second-hand cans of cranberry and pumpkin,
to celebrate with the tamales and border radio,
the cushioned vowels and sun-cracked plastic,
and the happy, gritty wind.
Over the years, Fain Rutherford has worked as a soldier, lawyer, university lecturer, rock-climbing guide, survival instructor and at-home-dad. He currently resides in the desert of central Washington State. His recent poems appear or are scheduled to appear in Right Hand Pointing, Pyrokinection, Poetry Quarterly, Jellyfish Whispers, Halfway Down the Stairs, Furious Gazelle, Front Porch Review, Eunoia Review, Connotation Press, and Apeiron Review.
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