Author: gmmonks

A Few of My Publications

Bedroom at Arles

I once lived in a Van Gogh bedroom. Paint
peeling off the walls, a view to nowhere.
A small table, one straight-back chair,
a single bed with red cover. A rough wooden
floor. On the wall, hung a chipped mirror.
A green door opened to the small closet.

One of my artist friends said he was glad
he didn’t have to live there.

It took Van Gogh to paint it—for me, young
and on my own—to know what I had. That
I lived in a place a genius would’ve painted.
He would have seen the shapes and colors,
the placement of things, my blue dress
hanging on a nail on the wall.

First published: Kansas City Voices, Vol. 12. August 2014

IF THEY KILLED ME

Newly-married finds a job forty minutes from home.

“How you going to get there?” husband asks.

“Drive the truck,” she says.

“You can’t do that. I might need it.”

Newly-married walks a mile to the neighbor’s for a ride to town. It’s six in the morning and frost blankets the road. Opossums don’t mind. Coyotes howl in the distance.

Husband is sleeping under newly-married’s down comforter.

After dinner, husband says, “I told Howard Mayburn he could have sex with you.”

“You did what?”

“You heard me.”

“You can’t say that. And to Howard, our landlord?”

“He complained his wife doesn’t like sex,” husband says.

Newly-married says nothing. Her jaw drops; her muscles freeze.

Newly-married and husband visit the zoo. Beside them, a boy grabs a pigeon that lands nearby. He breaks its neck and throws it into the wide open mouth of a hippopotamus that chews and swallows it. The boy laughs. His two buddies hoot adolescent slang.

The hippopotamus opens its mouth for another. Feathers cover its tongue. The boys strut away.

“We should tell the police,” she says.

“They’re boys. You’re always ready to do the usual,” husband says.

“If they killed the hippo, should that be reported?”

“No.”

“If they killed me?”

“God would take care of it.”

Newly-married walks over to the elephants, soon recalling that elephants mate for life. She almost laughs. She walks past the ugly hyenas sniffing each other, past the smelly tigers pacing their cages, through the entrance and to the truck. She drives home, biting her lip. She gets her down comforter and slices it open. She dumps feathers inside husband’s truck, on his clothes, in the bathtub, the fridge, the pork and beans, on the kitchen table. Being polite, she leaves a note—God can take care of it.

First published in Picayune, Spring 2013

Family

He bragged about his two girls—how
they fought when growing up but now
act inseparable. He grinned like a new
father when he said they love their
mother, their grandparents

I was intrigued.
I met them.

Not pretty, not ugly, not
dumb, not smart, almost chubby.
They chatted about their low-
paying jobs. They bragged about
their father—how outgoing he was,
all his friends, how funny he was

First published in Alehouse, Number 4, 2010