Sometimes A Cigar Is Not Just by Kristin Garth

Sometimes A Cigar Is Not Just

for Monica Lewinsky

Inside a Florida strip club, ‘98,
you can still smoke the cigars they stock
so management decides to create
a roll call ripped from the headlines that mocks
a 22-year-old girl, median
age of the ones who twirl before tourists,
titans of this tiny town. Cigar in hand,
circle around, until we’re picked for a tryst,
topless then helped to the ground to emulate
a power disparity that makes men
feel presidential while we gyrate—
though the regulations of Puritans
always frustrate. You can only demean
never penetrate our skin or the sheen

of glittery sweat. We are all interns,
lest we forget, in what is still a male
carousel where we consent here to turn,
ribboned ponies they harness, not for sale.
Rented thighs burn mimicking rides, hundreds
who never even touch. Runaways
accruing crop marks, existential dreads.
These slut shaming games forever played
out in womanchildish suburban heads
compete now with a voice louder than them.
The young outlive the withering, dead —
it is the risk of maligning younger women
who forego berets, bitter days you reigned.
We have the last word about all the pain

you abandoned us to, the joke you allowed
us to be — for we all made mistakes like these
in our twenties. My own spent dancing for crowds
of married men who want us on our knees.
Sometimes I would submit to the least worthy
of these. There was no presidential seal
made surreal by the indignities
they imposed. Cigar cellophane peeled
while I took off my clothes made it as lewd
as details disclosed by Kenneth Starr, Matt
Drudge. Was I just passive or did I collude
in these cigar strip club roleplays that
condemned her and ourselves in fraught
dated thoughts. Sometimes a cigar is just not —


Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 21 books of poetry including Crow Carriage (Sweet Tooth Story Books) and The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and the editor of seven anthologies. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website

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