Full and Plum-Colored Velvet | Anne Graue

I never saw The Electric Horseman.
I was making out in the back with Mark,
my first real boyfriend, in the velvety
rocking seats in the expensive Glenwood
theatre in Overland Park; I never saw
the lighted cowboy suit or Robert Redford
kiss Jane Fonda. If he did, I didn’t care.

I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show
with him. He showed me what to do
and where to shout “No shit, Sherlock!”
and when to ask about the symptom
in antici—say it!—pation of Frankie’s
answer. The Bijou in Kansas City
reeked of dried semen and stale beer,
but I smelled Old Spice and wintergreen.

He insisted we see American Gigolo,
and even at 17 I knew it was bad.
He admired Gere’s character in a way
that made me uncomfortable
but I was in that trance, that place
where no one could tell me different.

Coal Miner’s Daughter, a “better” movie,
bored us—that’s when he proposed
that we drive to Sedalia, Missouri
just because he had a full tank
of gas and had been there once.
We drove all night, had breakfast
at Denny’s, drove all day home.

He tranced me onto a bus to Biloxi
after he enlisted in the Air Force.
Riding the bus felt like freedom
through pines and the bad parts
of towns where bus stations
always are; Lake Pontchartrain
I thought was an ocean. Sleeping
in the near-empty barracks
seemed like the right thing to do.

My college roommate said someone
with a very sexy voice called and asked
for me; he told me he wanted to buy me
a car—a Fiat X19 he thought I’d look
good in. It was Mark’s voice full and
plum colored velvet and my ear
filled up with promises that blocked
the reality of class in the morning and
his 3-hour drive away. Weeks later

we met at a music store in Kansas City
in a room for piano lessons—keyboards, benches,
headphones—no real piano in sight. We made
out on a bench then drove to the Days Inn.
When he drove me home my hair
was matted, my plaid shirt sweating, my
mouth dry and silent.

I heard he spent some time in jail.
He is born again on Facebook.

————
Originally from Overland Park, Kansas, Anne Graue is a poet living in New York’s Hudson Valley where she teaches writing online for the University of Phoenix. She has earned degrees in creative writing and the teaching of English from Kansas State University and Columbia University, respectively. Her poems have appeared in The Westchester Review, American Tanka, The New Verse News, Squalorly, and The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly.

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