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What Do They Call Me?
( a poem for Nina Simone)

Nina explains the world
like a Sophoclean tragedy
or like the Bible

She explains how hubris works
and tells of a flood
that killed the entire world

In the middle of the night
when I wake up sweating,
shoving the covers off my feet,

It is dawn for her. In a Parisian hotel
room, she sits over a pile of Vicodin,
scrawling out her new testament

When I hear bad news
at the start of a collect call
on a static filled line,

Nina has figured out the future
and the rest of eternity
just by the cigarette ash in her tray

When the rain is heavy handed
striking my roof
like frantic fingers on piano keys

She sits atop of her throne
shouting down to her audience,
“Shut the FUCK up!”

When I’m feeling good,
unable to explain the new dawn,
when I love, Nina is silent.

She sleeps now,
having already dragged the sun
across the sky.


In Scruffy Murphy’s Bathroom

In a bathroom stall of the bar I work at,
a desperate woman wrote:
“Beware, Jason Cheney BEATS women.”
It’s not dated

I read it every time I pee and wonder:
Who was this woman?
Maybe she came to the bar with Jason
way before I started waitressing here

Maybe Jason shotgunned ten PBRs
before the night began
and it only took him two Jagerbombs
before getting really red in the face

Maybe he told her: “You slut.
You’re titties are coming out of your
goddamn shirt.” and then he added,
“Dance on me, bitch.”

Maybe her name was Misty
and she didn’t want to dance on him
rather she did want to shake
her narrow hips to Warrant

Maybe this whole ordeal took place in the 80’s

Maybe Jason got grabby or full-on handsy
and Misty ran to the bathroom
to cry, to pat her face with cold wet
paper towel or to pee

Either way, I know she had a
ball point pen in her purse
and while she peed, she printed:
“Beware, Jason Cheney BEATS women.”

Still, I wonder if she went home with Jason,
if her name was actually Tammy, instead,
and if Warrant had another hit besides
“Cherry Pie.”


Copyright © 2011 Charish Halliburton

Charish Halliburton lives in Columbus, Georgia, where she studies Existentialism and works at an Irish pub. When she's not pulling pints of Guiness, she's writing about the human experience.