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 kristingarth.com

Two Poems by Kristin Garth

First foot fetishist

I meet at the strip club adores a horde
of stilettoed feet — mine, two more paid if I’d
take a seat at his table, champagne poured,
to unbuckle shoes, nothing undignified,
untoward — removing bras, plaid print skirts.
Rest your sock feet (he knows they hurt) upon
a seat discretely close to him — not pervert
but gentleman who would never come on
to you, ask to touch. Proffers rote questions
about school, movies and such though his eyes are
on arches, toes when you respond. Obsession
makes him an automaton, a strip bar
regular. Every dancer knows the routine—
It’s still demeaning if not quite obscene.

*

Transmutability

I drive across a bridge sometimes to write
where I was born — an insular beach town
my parents scorn because, somehow, in spite
of the tank they fabricated to drown
me in somebody else’s vacation place,
I too am a tourist who travels
an hour, unicorn notebook, pencil case,
towards this gulf to share some tranquil
coffee shop space with teenagers, doing time
like me, with strangers hoping to find
transmutability maritime.
I blow through here for a breeze that reminds
me of the resilience of my mermaid brain —
a gulf could only nurture not contain.

*

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 23 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press) and Atheist Barbie (Maverick Duck Press). 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 kristingarth.com

One Poem by Kristin Garth

Nude Summer

Artistic nudes eat economical foods
even if you book gigs five nights a week.
Disrobe more than a Southern girl should
publicly, indiscreet. Art professors seek
you for sessions alone, Polaroids, braids
stiletto heels. You are one of a few
figure models in this small town unafraid
to flaunt your sex appeal. You never knew
what was expected of you from your first
community class. Your artist best friend
attends each week, one night asks, what’s the worst
that could happen? You never do it again.
Both of you surprised that it goes so well.
Take off your clothes a summer; live on Taco Bell.

*

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 23 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press) and Atheist Barbie (Maverick Duck Press). 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 kristingarth.com

Fire and Flood by Kristin Garth

Fire and Flood
(as two Barbie Dreamhouses)

Some have a Barbie dreamhouse as a child.
First I bought, myself, my 20’s, with cash
compiled in strip clubs, a girl going wild
in plaid. Until a stranger lit a match
to burn down everything I had accrued
with lewd choreography. Second an
abuser bought for me, an overdue
idyllic acrylic home that’s briefly
my own, reparations I will choose
to accept. Plastic families are easy
to protect, it would seem. This one I lose
by flood, recluse who lets nobody
in, no men, though this strategy is flawed.
Even plastic is not safe from acts of God.

*

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net and Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream, The Meadow and Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir. Read her poetry journal Pink Plastic House a tiny journal where she is the Dollhouse Architect. Listen to her weekly sonnet podcast called Kristin Whispers Sonnets on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Visit her site Kristingarth.com and talk to her on Twitter @lolaandjolie