Tara Boswell


sloppy blood on the computer desk in the intake room
would have me outraged if I wasn’t so desperate in the intake
I close my eyes and make all the potted plants have mouths for trapping
the happy mouth of the woman who doesn’t understand why I have no symptoms doesn’t
understand to be safe to be safe I wildly exaggerate don’t make me exaggerate don’t make
me ok my boyfriend fucked all—my boyfriend—fucked all of—Los Angeles—
all of it—without any protection please know this is as serious as
pen strokes on clipboards in the waiting room possibly
in the intake room her name is definitely Judy she tells me
she came from Communist China for nurse’s training in the states and I wonder about
the logistics of coming from Communist China for nurse’s training in the states where
she first learned how to put a condom on because her husband is dead before he was dead he was
always her husband—without any protection—punches of light behind
my eyelids—Judy please don’t stop clucking your tongue or rubbing my forehead
in small circles bursting snaps of light bursting snaps of cold apple juice in my mouth
inside my—so your boyfriend what is that—a symptom of wildly exaggerated hand gestures
while I feel bad for talking to her like—speak—fucking—English—while I feel like
a dry condom on a soft banana it’s a symptom of my North Jersey youth and
I’d abuse anybody to feel better than high school again
high school again: the slop mop and a janitor’s bucket—
industrial green checked linoleum tiles—in the waiting room gossiping—
where am I when it comes down the pipe:
the first time I blew a guy I spit him back onto himself and cried.

TARA BOSWELL is a New Jersey native who lives and writes in Chicago, where she recently received her Poetry MFA from Columbia College. She is a founding curator of The Swell, an art cooperative and performance series. She also serves as an Assistant Editor for Phantom Limb Press, as well as the online literary journal Ghost Proposal. Her work can be found in Pinwheel, Salt Hill, PANK, Parcel, ILK, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere.

Read more by Tara Boswell:

Two poems at Pinwheel
Poem at ILK
Two poems under severe PANKage