7.10 / September 2012

Whore’s Bath 1921

listen to this poem

Try not to look so used. Dash of soap between the legs,
a moment’s scrub and call it clean,
then check your dress for any tears or stains.

It’s hard sometimes to sleep, so rub a little lipstick
on your cheeks or swipe a bit of chalk
around your eyes. You’ll look awake

enough. Pin your hair back, spare yourself
the tangles, pulls, the getting it in your mouth-
then crack the window, clear the scent of sweat

and let whoever’s next pretend that he’s your first
today. Smile hard-until your jaw aches,
until your face freezes that way-and if he asks, make up

a name (everyone here pretends they’re someone
else). Just between us, if he’s going at you harder
than you agreed-well, no sense in getting killed.

Tuck a blade beneath the mattress. Just in case.
After, have a drink or two or three. If you’re late
to bleed I know where you can end it, fast

and cheap. Don’t think twice, don’t kid yourself,
you’ll see. You’ll get the hang of it.
Get out there now, best catch on quick: Blow kisses,

hike your dress up, call Come on, boys, and get it while it’s hot.
You have something they want-now go and sell it
like it’s everything you’ve got.


Nikki Zielinski's poems currently appear in PANK, Birmingham Poetry Review, and New Madrid. She has received fellowships and awards from the University of Oregon, Bridport Arts Centre, Sewanee Writers' Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Most often, she and her giant dog live in Cleveland.
7.10 / September 2012

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