Monthly poem

Logan Square Oasis

by Stephanie Lane Sutton

Boy with a staring problem.

Takes off his leather jacket, grey letterman’s sweatshirt.

Puts them in with the rest of the wash.
Puts on bluegreen earbuds
and looks at the cycle
with infinite sadness.

The homeless couple buys another lotto ticket,
and here I am again at the Logan Square Oasis
with them, they are sitting by the windows,
by the crane machine,
with a boombox and a milkcrate
full of household necessities.
A can of soup. Toilet paper.
Glass cleaner. The boy with
the staring problem
puts his laundry in the unit under mine.

I don’t care. Some Saturdays,
the actor brushes my arm
deliberately. The dance floor
is covered with balloons we stomp and stomp on
with the flats of sneakers and also, the stilettos,
which snap ankles and hearts better than remembered.
Listen: I didn’t come here
for your photographs—I came here to
dance, but first, drink copiously—

there may be eight college nerds who live in this loft
turned into kings with kegs and living rooms
filled with beautiful fake eyelash women and
the staunch sports fans who come to stalk them
but I can still spend my Friday nights
in the Laundromat. I’ve got crumbs
all over the knees of my sweats,
where once, I never would have tried

to sit when there were no other hands to speak of.

To sit on the counter, legs
criss-crossed, reading Yahoo! News on one’s grease-smeared touch screen
since I, for one, could never have the patience for understanding Sodoku
when I’ve got to perfect the practice
of noticing the change in light
from steel blue to thunder orange
in the surroundings every time a commercial comes on.

Dear sir: what if the water in your wash touches mine and the remnants of our
soupy, soap-eaten fluids mix? What makes it far less horrifying for you to stare
at me than to imagine, with me, if we washed our clothes together?

I am trying to destroy the lives of strangers, he
has his sheets cycloning with the brightness
of my disembodied wardrobe, tossing these images
as if this world walled with machines were like a moving painting,
a living chessboard, say,
“King me” when you know the rules are outdated, make
more quarters out of dollars than what you need
to break it all down into fractions:
each tile is a piece of the floor, each foot
unwilling without a step, each step
a walk that follows different patterns,
each pattern, a different way of traveling,
I said, there’s a cramp in my hand,
since my eyes are like dimmed marbles
after reading the fine print for so long.

Dear sir: when I look at you, I see you there. When I write, is when I get to

stare.

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