Red Light Roses

By JILL MCDONOUGH

Josey picks me up at work in a car we bought
together, car she dug out of frozen slush for hours.
She picks me up and gives me roses. Valentine’s Day.
Usually we just turn up the heat, one day each winter
we don’t need PolarFleece and UGGs inside our house:
75 degrees, old movies, tenderloin, champagne.
Roses on the end table, then on the dresser
so I can see them when I fall asleep, again when I
wake up. From now on I’m buying red light roses,
maybe a whole bucket full some time I’m feeling flush.
They make the bucket guy so happy, it feels so good
to rose drive-thru. The red light roses, like scratch tickets,
help the local economy, do hardly any harm. Red light
roses smell like roses. Red light roses come with baby’s
breath. Red light roses come to you, make you happy you
hit a red light, make you wish you had more time just
joshing with the guy. Red light roses last for days.
They last for weeks if you don’t mind them dead.

 

Jill McDonough’s books of poems include Habeas CorpusWhere You Live, and Reaper. The recipient of three Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Public Library, the Fine Arts Work Center, and Stanford, her work appears in The Threepenny Review andBest American Poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at UMass Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center online. Her fifth poetry collection, Here All Night, is forthcoming from Alice James Books.

[Purchase Issue 16 here]

Red Light Roses

Related Posts

Photograph of a door in a brick wall from Joost Markerink on Flickr

March 2020 Poetry Feature: Frances Richey

FRANCES RICHEY
Two good sized dogs with him. Princess and Baby. / When he brought them out they walked so close / together, they looked like one starving animal / with two heads. In the summer he left his door open. / It was dark in there, but I could see / roaches crawling on the walls.

Soldiers

February 2020 Poetry Feature: Victoria Kelly

VICTORIA KELLY
This is not a corsage or dinner party / kind of love; this is a hard love, / a mining rubies in Greenland kind / of love, out of rocks / uncovered by melting ice, the terrain sparse // and unexplored; there are no galas, no gazebos / here, no indolent lovers on sofas...

Excerpt from BATTLE DRESS

KAREN SKOLFIELD
Perhaps with a desk between, / some chaste space, the recruiter leaning / forward, warm bodies on the other side. / Of the teenagers present / one will lie about her age, / one will eat bananas to make weight, / one pull herself from small-town quicksand. / Lace the hands behind the head...