Easy Street | Cindy King

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Cindy King’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Sun, Callaloo, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, American Literary Review, TriQuarterly, Crab Orchard Review, Gettysburg Review, River Styx, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. You can hear her read her work online at weekendamerica.publicradio.orgrhinopoetry.org, and at cortlandreview.com.

She has been awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to attend the Sewanee Writers' Workshop. Most recently, her poems were chosen for the Betty Gabehart Prize by the University of Kentucky. She has also received the Agha Shahid Ali Scholarship in Poetry from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where she continued revising her book-length manuscript, Zoonotic. It will be published by Tinderbox Editions in 2020.

Cindy was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up swimming in the shadows of the hyperboloid cooling towers on the shores of Lake Erie. At 23, she moved to Mississippi and has lived most of her life as a naturalized Southerner. Perpetually bewildered, she currently lives in Southern Utah, where she doesn’t know a butte from a bluff. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Dixie State University and Faculty Editor of The Southern Quill.


 Girl in Sheep’s Clothing (1989)

Free of fouls and free throws, sprints and suicides,
the gym is an Elysium of helium and Mylar.
One night of streamers and fairy lights
and I’m the impossible gentleman,
how I’ve slipped on this sex
one leg at a time, its worsted weight
wobbles my waltz on the hardwoods.
Here I am drunk on aftershave,
on juniper and bay, I rope-a-dope
in haze of cedar, unseen
by the scoreboard’s dead eyes.

Girl who could wear anything, woman
who is everyone, mother who’s not here:
I no longer need your hands in my waistband,
yanking shirttails into submission.
I can tighten the knot at my throat on my own.
Turn away from my swagger and sway;
it’s not for you that these wingtips sing.
Don’t ask me to come strapless,
a living thing packed to the fins in sparkling—
I’d sooner be scaled than sequined.

Don’t ask me to shed this camelhair bunker:
this suit is my three-piece tabernacle, where
I can vanish this double-breasted body, shrug
its heft from my seersucker heart.