Charm School

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We used to clean up so well, then
we stopped cleaning. In the high heel
bakery they play a folk song I once

danced to in a subterranean room
filled with foam and wooden beads.
I never got the point of worry cloaks

or pilot lights, somebody crouching
beneath the furnace with a celery stalk
lit ablaze. What’s more desperate

than an elegant crane submitting itself
to the will of the highway, crusts
thrown from some half-shut window?

There was a miserable midrise you
could see from the turnpike. I thought
it had been burned in a fire, but no,

that was just soot and the elements
keeping Frances and Roger locked
in an apartment filled with dripping

hosiery. Trash bags or bits of skirt
flapped from certain windows.
Old men attempted fishing nearby

in a shanty made of discarded aprons.
At least they seemed to be abandoned.
Maybe people looked at me the same way.

Photo by: Chantal Beam

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About Author

Mary Biddinger’s most recent poetry collection is O Holy Insurgency (Black Lawrence Press, 2013). She is also co-editor of The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics (U Akron Press, 2011). Her poems have recently appeared in Crazyhorse, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and Sou’wester, among others. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Akron, where she edits the Akron Series in Poetry and Barn Owl Review.

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