• Michelle Brooks

Three poems

Where Dreams Come True

The bathroom attendant asks me when

my shift begins. In my silver dress, I look

like a shake dancer. Soon, I tell her, giving

her a dollar for the peppermint she offers me.

I look for my friends, the sounds of the casino,

of luck and loss, surround me. I spot a dwarf

wearing a beret adorned with glitter riding

a scooter. He wheels toward me and yells,

“What are you looking at?” I tell him I’m

waiting for my shift to start, and he softens.

“First day?” he asks. I nod. “Shake it like you

mean it,” he says, rolling away to put quarters

in the Count Chocula slot machine. I find my

friends at the bar ordering expensive cocktails

that appear as if they are on fire, smoke from dry

ice enveloping them until you’re left with vodka

and fruit juice. I take a sip, thinking about how

I could get the same thing for half the price down

the street but I’m not paying for the drink. You

never pay for just the drink.

Take A Number

It’s September, and I’m thinking

about every office job I’ve ever

held, about the feeling of three

o’clock on any random Wednesday

afternoon, the feeling of my life

leeching away with the light. I’m

thinking of nights when the choice

is between frozen pizza and leftovers,

of the multi-packs of chips in which

only the bland ones remain, of waiting

at the DMV, of football games blaring

in the background on any given Sunday,

of bills to pay and errands to run. When I

die, I will miss it all. It’s September.

Don’t Be A Stranger

There is nothing to see here,

just memories that aren’t yours,

and days you will never get back,

and the sense you will never escape

yourself, and I remember a girl

in my old neighborhood who shared

my name. The adults said she was

touched, a little slow. That summer,

the Bicentennial, everyone adorned

themselves with flags. Bruce Jenner

won the Decathlon, and women talked

in hushed tones about rumors of affairs,

of husbands who beat their wives.

The world was still a mystery, as was

the day the father of the sweet little

girl who shared my name came home

from repairing air-conditioning units

and shot her and her mother before

killing himself. The house where I grew

up remains the same, iron bars covering

the windows, still protecting everyone

in the house from everything but themselves.

Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, (Storylandia Press). Her poetry collection, Pretty in A Hard Way, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2019. A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult life in Detroit.

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