Allison Cundiff will be one of three featured readers at the •chance operations• reading at the Tavern of Fine Arts, 313 Belt Avenue, on Monday, March 31.
Other featured readers will be Steven Schreiner and Jim Mrockowski.
Musical guest: David Parker, solo jazz piano.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Admission is FREE.
Open-mic follows the featured readers.
Allison is a graduate of
there were four cans lined up on that hollowed mossy log
that had always been there it seemed
and we stood before it not talking the other woman and I,
quiet aside the men not because they made us
but because they would not hurt us we knew
and sometimes when men talk evenly
and they are all the same with beautiful shoulders
and denim cuffs over boots that have been resoled
and drops of paint dried on top
but those are the shoes they wore after work too.
and I had brought cold lunch for the hunters
but it was nearing sunset and the sweet feeling
of cooking for a really good man,
one who would grow to love me back,
oh but love at 19 was looking up and catching,
seeing his pain as he saw the run in my tights
or the too young face he shamed himself for loving.
and they all had guns
their fathers had taught them to shoot
and I held my boss' baby
whose teeth were aching and my pinky finger in his mouth
all those pink ridges, poor thing,
and judy had the toddler who kicked her belly with his boots
and the beer was in a can in my lover's brown fingers.
and all I could have been was there at that log,
a good man's wife,
my belly taut and sweetly pregnant over and over
too young, making love over and over to a man
who wouldn't have squinted his eyes shut
and instead would put his hand on the small of my back
ohgod a man's hand there.
A man who smiled when he pulled inside of me,
as to say, this is right, no one is getting hurt,
I know this woman loves me. I'll smile with crooked teeth
and know she will think me beautiful.
I was behind with the reading for class
but said yes so I could help just with the babies
while the men of course had guns but in my backseat
I kept a notebook and once he asked,
did I write about him?
and I told him, baby, I have poems about you
but I won't show you till you keep your promise
to take me on that motorcycle to the desert
where you'll hold my cold burned skin
in some tent and his eyes were blue
and he was taller than me and he looked down then
but a good Catholic girl can't give those things away completely.
and his hands were tired after a day,
deep occasional cuts through coarse skin.
You know the shaking like the Elgar cello concerto opening
I won't talk about the falling away,
but I want to tell you that once
on a thursday sunset,
I handed over a teething baby
to his mother, lifted a rifle to my cheek,
and shot off two cans from a log in Novinger
under the eye of a hunter
eating the cold dinner I had made him,
his hand low on my back to steady my aim.
-- Allison Cundiff