Thursday Sep 21

Manteris-Poetry April Manteris received her MFA from Florida State University, where she also won the Ann Durham Creative Writing Thesis Award. She is currently a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Her work has appeared in The National Poetry Review and Connotation Press: An Online Artifact.

Letter to J on Returning Me Some Other Girl’s Underwear

These aren’t my panties, I tell E
holding them up against
the strand of dead light
bulbs jangling overhead,

and she launches from her disintegrating
patio chair to snatch them,
stretches them out
like a carnival trick—

you could fit at least two
of you in these,

what was he thinking?
September heaves

its humid sigh at dusk
while black flies worry
the bedroom window.
Something’s died

in the crawl space above.
E understands your ego as a sickle,
how you cull anger like good meat,
she tells me to expect endings—

the way the past seeps through
poorly stitched holes,
the places we put our hands,
how quickly we undress

our weapons. A fisted cigarette
fizzles in a damp ashtray
and above, electricity fails
when I slip the panties back

into the brown paper bag
you left for E to give me.
At home, in the double bed
I bought to accommodate

your bulk, I dream you
write a new story and call it
Nacthmahr . When they read it,
everyone is afraid
of you. How in sleep,
our vents unguarded,
we multiply: larvae hatch daily,
turn sluggish mid-air, hover

until they starve,
they circle my bathroom mirror
as I brush my teeth,
gather at my stoop—

a constant funeral. I am living
with a swarm of Gregors,
an infestation of eyes
that remind me of you—

and I don’t mind, too much,
their company.

DeSoto Street

I keep waiting for the mosquitos to burn the sky
into night. Across the street gardeners milk
the neighbors’ grass, rip August out

of their hydrangeas, keep everything living
off the lawn. Under the carport cats make love,
pitching yowls. I want what they want.

A child wrapped himself around me today
and his mother warned me of his love for beauty;
I hoped he would kiss me. May our unborn son

have night terrors to remind me of you.
May he smooth our skin so when we touch
each other, it’s unknown, the kind of closeness

we had the first time. Outside your room,
daylight sweats. Leaf blowers drive me
from your bed into someone else’s dreams.