10.3 (Spring 2006)
Top Girl
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Sam PereiraListen


Blue Flames & Anger

He walked into the living room
Like he owned it, which
He did back then, along with
Her and their son, James,
Named after him; a gift
From his wife, on a day
In November. 1997.
A burner now flared in the kitchen—
One of those medium
Blue flames gas companies
Like to show when flaunting
How dependable they can be.
He had been dependable,
Draping a chocolate cloth coat
Over her shoulders and taking her
Out for chili and beer. Somewhere
In the evening, the beer
Always went to his head,
And he’d hit her just
Enough to draw certain
Handfuls of tears, leaving her
Skin pink in the morning air.
He was always sorry. Always.
If she’d walk through the door
This minute, he’d want her
To know how sorry and
That the coat still looked
Like mink on his beautiful girl.


What Happens When You Leave

It had been her
Midwestern recklessness
As a girl, that sent
The mysterious shivers
Up her spine tonight.
Once, in Cincinnati,
Overcoming sizeable odds,
She jumped into a truck
And simply pointed north,
Which brought her,
Falling drunk, to this
Dakota bar and grill,
Where two Dakota men
Played pinball, waiting,
Just waiting, for someone
Like her to come
Into their lives. She
Smiled her Cincinnati
Smile, which brought them
To their knees, bells ringing
In the hard Fargo night.
What followed smelled
Of a stale, drug store perfume
And day-old Pabst, pooled
Next to the bed, and two
Dwindling sighs at sunrise,
Wondering what happened,
And if the third sigh
Made it home okay.


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