Sunday May 26

JanBeatty Jan Beatty’s new book, The Switching Yard, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in spring, 2013. Other books include Red Sugar, Boneshaker, and Mad River, also by the University of Pittsburgh Press, and a chapbook, Ravage, published in 2012 by Leftie Blondie Press. She is host and producer of Prosody, a public radio show featuring the work of national writers. She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University where she teaches in the MFA program.  Her web site can be found here.

Body Snatchers

Midway Airport to downtown Chicago—
one rat terrier jumps up at me:
a banner of lights strobes the screen
in the back of the cab:
Adopt Me   adopt Me
flashing on & off, now dancing with its
spindly little legs, its paws slapping
the dark bars of its cage.
I was thinking of my hotel, maybe
a steak dinner, & then the pit bull:
restrained with rawhide,
stares from its pen. Sickly pink pigment
rims the mouth like baby butt skin,
a remarkable Cro-Magnon head, the long
tongue dripping rivers of saliva.
The once-lumbering beagle with oversized
brown eyes plops on its cage-pillow:
adopt me!
Same scam as baby adoptions,
commercials that say:
Make the right choice
with pitiful pictures of waiting
orphans (child models)
Cut to body part/
picture of a dog’s neck with owner tags hanging:
Yes! You can own something breathing!
Yes, you! Boring, co-dependent you!
Be in charge of a body, your very own
devil child who will jump & play.
Pretend the child is yours & watch it
turn into a bastard, bastard,
cutting your family sheets into strips—
then watch the mongrel attack the dogs
in the lovely cul-de-sac where you live:
what will you do with all the blood?
Now cutting your skin into strips,
& all you wanted to do was save
the little lost thing, give her a real
home, & now look at her:
she’s fucking everyone in the neighborhood
just to feel alive—
she’s hip to your tricks:
you wanted her
never wanted her

Sticking It to the Man

In the bank line:
young guy in hi-tops w/ipod,
black-blazered girl on her lunch hour,
guy with 20-inch arms in a Hines Ward jersey/
cut-off at the sleeves,
white-haired woman with a cane & her daughter
—no suits.
I’m behind hi-tops.
Lateeka’s working, my favorite teller—
she’s got wild nail art & fire red/burgundy
feather extensions. We always talk hair & makeup,
she’s in school for accounting.
Line’s not moving—restaurant guy walks in
with a bag stuffed with slips & receipts.
The blonde teller working the line
leaves her post & exits side-door,
so it’s Lateeka & people
roll their eyes & grumble:
Oh great, now there’s only one teller up there.
Steeler guy shakes his head:
Jesus Christ, do you believe this?
Daughter says to mother,
Why don’t you sit down?
I’m alright, she says.
Blazer girl turns:
I’m late for an appointment.
Steeler guy, red-faced, waves his massive arms wide
like he’s going out for a pass & yells:
Hey, I got an idea—
why don’t we shut this shit down & open up a bank?
We turn to see his arms sweeping &
jabbing the air like he’s trying to grab it down —
even his neck red with rage.
He barrels out the door & we bust into
laughing, the air brimming with mutiny.
1 new spot open, we inch forward
like fat cattle, clutching our checks & deposits
a little less tightly—moving towards Lateeka,
small now behind the cage, the open bars—
& in the clear, quiet place in the cage
of the mind, with each new step,
we have won for the day,
we are sticking it to the man.