THE MAN WHO LOCKED WOMEN IN HIS BASEMENT
and fed them dog food and kept them naked in chains
and threw them in pits and raped them and, of course,
killed them—the torso he roasted in an oven, the body
he discarded in the pine barrens—he would make
the women turn on each other and tell on each other
and sometimes shock each other with electrical wires
and the most obedient woman he released, briefly, only
so that she could see her family, only if she promised
she would return and would not to tell anyone, and
of course, she did just that, and they captured him finally
and hauled him off to jail and the story came out and
no one could believe it and they kept asking for details
and names and photographs and more information and
and why and why and why and when they brought
the man in front of the judge, and asked him, Why?
He said, When I bought the house, the women were
already in the basement. I didn’t do nothing.
When I moved in, they all were already there.
THE POETS’ WEDDING IN NEW ORLEANS
FOR ANIS & ALEXIS
was held outdoors in a park in late May. We sat under the trees
and watched the pin wheels refuse to move, not even a hint
of a breeze. Soon humidity shoved its hands down our collars,
under our pant legs, dampened each wilting necktie. Make-up
slowly dissolved. Crew cuts shimmered with sweat. Even
the toddlers sat in the centers of hula hoops, and held leaves
to their cheeks. Young couples tried their best, kissing
with hot earnestness, until a defeated partner would say,
Okay, okay. That’s enough. We waited. We didn’t realize
the tartlets on the table were slowly cooking, egg cream
turning into omelet. We didn’t know the frozen strawberries
being used as ice would give up so easily, breaking apart
in the lemonade like small exploding hearts. What we did know
was that you stand when the bride arrives, all of us humming
Here Comes in the Bride into kazoos. She is, of course, beautiful:
flush with what we all know is love, floating towards her groom,
who grins like a happy bloodhound. They say every word just
to each other. She promises bike rides, adventure, teamwork.
He promises something so quiet we can’t hear it, his hands
fluttering like nervous sparrows over his excited heart.
The minister finally says it, and it is done. They are married.
And when they kiss, we clap our palms to our chests and scream.
They run down the aisle, hand-in-hand, burst into the sunlight.
They don’t stop, they keep running, laughing, eyes locked forward
to that bright future. Not even the wind tries to stop them.
CRISTIN O’KEEFE APTOWICZ is the author of five books of poetry — Everything is Everything (2010), Oh, Terrible Youth (2007), Working Class Represent (2004), Hot Teen Slut (2001) and Dear Future Boyfriend (2000) — all available on Write Bloody Publishing. She is also author of the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull Press, 2008) which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” Her poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, PANK, Rattle, Conduit, La Petite Zine, decomP and kill author, among others. Her recent awards include the ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residency at the University of Pennsylvania (2010-2011), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry (2011) and the Amy Clampitt Residency (2013). For more information, visit her website: Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.