Poetry — August 4, 2016 12:23 — 2 Comments

Two Poems – Carrie Conners

Sex Ed

After my mom declared You’re just showing off when I asked at 12 years old if my bras had shrunk in the dryer I started going lingerie shopping with my former babysitter. On break from college, she’d pick me up in The Banana, her decomposing Volkswagen Rabbit—one day the turn signal wand snapped off in her hand at a Stop sign by the old Fostoria factory—and she’d drive us to the Stone & Thomas in Wheeling with my mom’s credit card in my pocket. As our thighs fused to the black vinyl seats in the summer heat, she’d tell me about college parties with stolen nitrous tanks this guy’s dad’s a dentist, a history professor she dated his stomach is flat, not washboard, just smooth, so sexy, raking a hand through her blond hair, more Malibu than Moundsville, WV and I’d pretend to understand. We’d stop at a dive bar to get vodka cranberries in Styrofoam to-go cups with bendy straws, bartenders never questioning my age, half a foot taller than my chauffeur, before greeting the hairsprayed sales ladies with their frayed tape measurers. She’d dare me to try on red satin or black lace and we’d laugh in the fitting room, mock the sale ladies’ judgmental stares at her cutoffs with the hole in the ass revealing a peek of her Jockey’s, and she’d push me to pick at least one that wasn’t beige cotton. After, we’d visit her boyfriend, a mortician her parents didn’t like, sometimes at the funeral home while he was preparing a body for viewing, Metallica blaring from the radio, more often at his apartment where they’d pop open beers, kiss, try not to openly resent the girl preventing them from doing more, while I read the liner notes of his record collection, always made more nervous by the charge between them than the corpses, by the way he’d pick her up and spin her around so fast for too long, because I had never loved anything so hard in my short life that I needed to grab it, try to make it fly.



Gift Offering

It was snowing, as it always seemed to for funerals. Black wrap dress, black mid-height heels, my interview and funeral garb. I didn’t check the weather before packing for the trip back home to send off Glory-Glory. My grandmother always sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to her grandchildren but could only remember the chorus. I’d been tapped to bring the gifts to the altar during mass, I didn’t refuse though I’d lapsed at adulthood. The church had received a large donation, installed shiny new hardwood floors, so smooth you couldn’t feel grooves between the slats. The center aisle carpet absent to show off the renovation. When it came time to retrieve the gifts—water and wine in Italian restaurant oil and vinegar bottles—the snow tracked in on others’ boots had melted into pools on the wood floor. Of course, I slipped. My right knee cracked the floor, loud as a gunshot, as I hugged the end of the pew to keep myself upright. I didn’t flash anyone, but said “shit” as I went down, probably drowned out by the collective gasp of the mourners. Only after I was back in my seat—I rolled my eyes at the priest when I handed him the bottles—did I cry. Not from the embarrassment—the line that would get me through the rest of the day in my head already, “No one puts the fun in funeral…”—or old Catholic guilt, but because my bruised, throbbing limbs ached like adolescence, of which she was such a part, her ruthlessness in euchre games, her rapid-fire prosecutor’s questions about my life, her easy laugh. “Ter-ay-sa,” the Polish priest’s pronunciation of her given name sounded exotic, regal, not the usual West Virginian “tree-sa,” it would have tickled her, made her shoulders bounce up and down, the first indication of a giggle before any sound. My tears stopped as her song played us out of the church, though the bruises faded slowly, over a month from navy to green to yellow back to the dirty ivory that was hers.


Carrie Conners, originally from West Virginia, lives in Brooklyn and works at LaGuardia CC-CUNY where she teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. Her poetry has appeared or will soon be featured in DMQ Review, Cider Press Review, Steel Toe Review, Aji Magazine, Unbroken Journal, and RHINO.


  1. Rob Thompson says:

    I like both of these-maybe the Sex Ed more. Thank you.

  2. Jill Antolak says:

    I like both of these, you hit the “nail on the head” with both, Carrie. Love you & can’t wait to read more.

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What am I?

Bioluminescent eye
That sees by the shine
Of its own light. Lies

Blind me. I am the seventh human sense
And my stepchild,

Scientists can't find me.

Januswise I make us men;
Was my image then—

Remind me:

The awful fall up off all fours
From the forest
To the hours…

Tick, Tock: Divine me.

-- Richard Kenney