Three Poems by Wendy Rainey

Apartment 2F

I awoke to low, guttural groaning,
splitting into a duet of howling coyotes,
then stern commands
to “spank it,”
“squeeze it,”
and “giddy-up, bastard.”
A little girl voice
begged “Daddy” to suck her toes.
I looked at the clock.
It was 2:46 AM.

The new tenants above me in 2F
were at it again.
Their headboard banged for another twenty minutes
before the Lone Ranger
finally Hi Ho Silvered.
I could hear them walking above my head.
A toilet flushed.
Pans clanged in the kitchen.
Their yipping Shih Tzu
chased a bouncing ball across the floor.
Dance music pulsated through the walls.

It was as if the acoustics
in my tiny apartment
had hermetically sealed our lives together
into one long, grueling threesome.

I turned the light on.
It was 3:30.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep.
I was going on week two
of practically no shut-eye.

“Babe, you want scrambled or over easy?”
the baritone voice asked.
I banged the ceiling with the mop handle,
shouting, “I want scrambled, Daddy.
And suck my toes.”
“The fuck?” he yelled.
“Rude as fuck, yo. I’m comin’ down there!”
“No Daddy, Ignore it,”
the little girl voice said.
“People are hatin’ on our passion
cuz they have crappy little lives.”
“You got that shit right, girl!”
He stomped over my bed,
breaking into raucous laughter.

I turned on the television
to the cable porn station.
Found something called Naked Lockdown,
cranked up the volume.
I could barely hear them arguing
over the moaning and grunting of the inmates.
A plate crashed. A door slammed. The dog barked.
I turned off the porn.
“I’m comin’ down there now!” Daddy shouted,
stomping on the floor.
But he never did.

My crappy little life got a lot better
after Daddy dumped Little Girl.
He took the dog and the sound system with him.
She was seldom home after that.
But when she was home,
all I heard for the last month of her lease
was the soft hum of her vibrator,
and silence.
Beautiful silence.



A Santa Ana was kicking up dust.
Static in the air
made the hair on my arms stand
as I rode my bike on the freeway overpass
to The Royal Enchantment Motel.
I was seventeen,
looking for a part-time summer job.
I rang the bell at the desk.
A photograph of the motel owner and her son,
was tacked to a bulletin board behind the counter.
She was wearing a sari,
her black hair coiled into a bun.
He was wearing a white shirt and Levi’s.
Her hand touched his shoulder.
I walked behind the counter to get a better look.
I had seen him before at school.
He was handsome,
a year older than me.

She must have seen me checking out the photo
when she walked through the door.
Nodding, she motioned for me to follow her.
Their apartment was filled with plants
cascading from floor to ceiling.
An elephant god
stood four feet high in the corner.
She poured hot tea into three cups.
We drank it.
She asked me how old I was.
I showed her my work permit.
I walked over to the mantle
to look at the photos on the wall.
She told me they were of her family in West Bengal.
She turned to her son,
“You two will be cleaning the rooms together.”
He smiled at both of us.
She looked over at me,
her eyes narrowing,
“I pay in cash only.”

We worked in silence mostly,
but I got the feeling
that every time I turned my back
his eyes were scanning my body.
When we were in the storage closet
he stood close,
combing the hair off my face with his fingers.
“You’re flushed.
Is the heat getting to you?”
I didn’t answer him,
but I made sure my breasts
accidentally brushed his arm
as I reached
for a bottle of Mr. Clean.

After we had stripped the last bed of the day,
I swung a bogus blow to his neck,
while gently kneeing him in the groin.
He grabbed my leg.
“What are you doing?”
“I need to practice my self-defense technique
on you.
Pretend you’re an attacker.”
He stared at me.
I punched him in the stomach.
Laughing, he grabbed me.
I twisted out of his grip,
threw him against the wall.
One of the pastoral paintings fell on the floor.
“You’re not taking me seriously.”
He grabbed me again,
tripping me with his foot,
pinning me underneath him on the carpet.
He gripped me at the wrists
holding both of my arms down.
Sweat dripped off his face
onto mine.
“Happy now?”
I couldn’t move
for quite some time.

We were both on the floor
when his mother appeared in the doorway,
We jumped up, straightening our clothes as she approached.
She threw the laundry bag she was carrying at me.
“Mom, you don’t understand.
She was just practicing self-defense on me.”
“You think I’m stupid?”
Her pupils were dilated.
“I don’t need any shenanigans from you two!”
She grabbed the mop he was holding,
exposing his erection.
I felt a shock of electricity
when she put her hand on my burning cheek.
She yelled something at him in Bengali.
He growled back at her.
A trickle of blood
ran down her nose.
I reached into my pocket,
handed her a Kleenex.
She ignored me,
throwing a wad of dollar bills
at my feet.
She grabbed her son
by the arm.
They were still screaming at each other
as I watched them turn around
and walk away.




They will come for me when I’m old.
They will put me in a car,
or a van,
or an ambulance,
and they will take me to a place called Brookdale,
or Sunnyview,
or New Horizon.

There will be neither a brook nor a dale,
nor will the sun rise
on my horizon.
There will only be
a view of the freeway,
and the exhaust of traffic.

There will be a rec room
with jazzercise
and bingo.
And there will be a dining room
that serves only soft boiled eggs,
and Wonder Bread.
There will be the stench
of death and diapers
masked by a pine solvent
that will make me think
of a farting Christmas tree.

You out there,
no matter how cocksure you are,
you will eventually lose control of your cock.
It will squirm in your palm
like a dying snake.
And you,
Ms. Hot-Shit,
no amount of your husband’s money
is going stave off the inevitable landslide,
the ripping of the seams,
the dinner gone bad.

I already know how it’s going to be.
My mind will crack open
with a thousand filthy giggles.
I’ll run through the corridors naked,
an orderly with syringe in hand,
trying to catch me.

I’ll Jump from the roof,
raising my wings,
feeling the wind flirting with my body,
carrying me past the clouds,
toward the sun.
I’ll look down at the tiny ball of the world
and feel young again.
When every day was an adventure,
when my heart was pounding,
when I thought I could fly.


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