another cautionary tale

This one begins with girls,
candied and small boned as mice.
Begins in kitchens or hallways.

On the phone or in cars beneath picnic
blankets. When the killer comes
from the bushes. From the closet.

From the backseat of a blue Cadillac.
The girls line up like a seam. Fight back.
Fashion a rope from their hair, a compass

from a compact. When their date goes
for gas, they stab the psycho with a nail file,
hide the evidence beneath pink twin sets,

harbor something black and lush as licorice
beneath their tongues. Swallow the man
with the hook, the stranger inside the house.

When left alone, poison the boyfriend
and bury him beneath the cellar. Slaughter
the narrative, read it backwards like the gospel.

The dirty, dirty word in their mouth.

down together

Some day they’ll go down together
And they’ll bury them side by side
To few it’ll be grief, to the law a relief
But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.

--"The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde"

Her mama says women are weak,
    sin woven into their drawers,
sewn damn straight in the cotton seams
    of dresses. Now, the rows

of laundry smell like damnation,
    closets of back road motels,
their threadbare blue flowered bedspreads.
    Moonshined and drunk as hell,

he lines the rifles up like dolls
    shines them to a silver.
Soon, she’s swallowing bullets whole
    the pearl handled revolver

beneath the pillow. Crazy hot
    for the engine’s mean thrust.
She’ll wait in the Ford in the parking lot
    the windshield thick with dust

and the devil still in her yellow hair.
    In the space beneath her tongue.
Nothing is quite as pretty, he says,
    as a pretty girl holding a gun.


Poet and sometimes collage / text / book artist, Kristy Bowen's work has appeared in a number of electronic and print publications,
including Diagram, The Melic Review, Slipstream, and Cranky. Her most recent chapbook, errata, is available from her Website.
She lives in Chicago, where she edits the online poetry zine, wicked alice, and runs dancing girl press, devoted to publishing work by women poets. Her full-length collection, the fever almanac, is
forthcoming in November 2006 from Ghost Road Press.

Copyright © 2006 Kristy Bowen