Dog Whistle Effect
Over dinner, she asks if I have ever been to Uncle Tom’s Taco Shop. “You mean Honest Tom’s?” It becomes painfully obvious that we are two women—one black, one white—on a date in a “Mexican” restaurant. I look at her pork belly banh mi tacos, my own shrimp tempura tacos with tom yum aioli. This neighborhood used to be affordable. Now the coffee shops sell vinyl and breakfast sandwiches with names like “The Notorious E.G.G.” Uncle Tom aside, she has asked me if I have been to a restaurant three blocks from my own house, as if I won’t pass it on the bus ride home. She eats her “Vietnamese-Mexican” tacos, calls herself an “activist.” A war cry only I can hear.
Roommates, Pt. 2
In the kitchen, you are baking pizza with chicken and
pesto alfredo. She asks you to go with her shopping
downtown. It is the first time she’s spoken in weeks.
When you tell her you’re stopping at the record store,
she follows you in. You grab armfuls of jewel cases.
She says she’s never seen anyone do so much damage.
She asks you to go with her to the novelty store known
for its glow-in-the-dark dildos. This is nothing you
haven’t seen before. She stares around wide-eyed,
the same look as when she bought her first pack of
cigarettes. She had smoked one and given you the rest.
When your CDs set off the security alarm, you maintain
eye contact. You do not blush, for you are all adults.
When it starts to rain, she insists on waiting for the bus.
Once you get in your cab, she slides in. She doesn’t say
a word. At the stoplight a block from your apartment,
she jumps out on a red light. When you knock down
her door, you take the fare from her change jar. It
sits next to her journal. She writes about how much
she hates your guts, how much she loves you, wants
to be you, to kill you in your sleep then wear your skin.
Lauren Yates is a Pushcart-nominated poet based in Philadelphia. Her work has been featured or is upcoming in Vinyl, FreezeRay Press, Crab Orchard Review, and Whiskey Island. Lauren is currently working toward her Masters in Counseling Psychology at Temple University. She likes Trader Joe’s, tentacle erotica, and brunettes in red lipstick. For more information, visit http://www.laurentyates.com.