Theatrics. + 3 more by Lauren Yates

At the community college across from Home Depot,
we gambled with Dum-Dum lollipops. We would
watch old WrestleMania tapes, and bet on our favorite
performers. Yokozuna was always my pick.

Our teacher used wrestling to teach us about
acting. He declared himself a knight, and made
a play out of a movie based on an opera.

When I lost the lead to the cornrowed blonde, I drew on
a mustache and a wool coat, my solo—“When the Foeman
Bares His Steel”—replaced with the theme to Cops.

We opened every fire exit. Whatever door we ran out of,
we couldn’t re-enter, like the chase scenes from Scooby Doo.
This was our teacher’s Sistine Chapel, his excuse to
sing “Feliz Navidad” after telling fake, bad news.

The Saturday my family went shopping in the desert,
Mom laughed so hard, she couldn’t breathe.
We spun off the road into a field. The sky tie-dyed itself

Northern Lights, the winds strong enough to topple
the priciest of weaves. I began to float up toward
the sky. As the little green men beamed me up,

I looked down at the women rolling on the
ground, their flooding eyes, their shaking
shoulders—“Remember her running around
in that hot, wool coat?”—bad-mouthing
the Sistine Chapel, making no effort to save me.

Cinéma Vérité.
You are too honest, say the suits
over hundred dollar salads.
You count out quarters for your tea,
the honey dipper like a drowned
cattail (some people call them “corndog grass”).
They don’t offer to pay the check
until each coin’s on the table.
Why the mint won’t print more money
is beyond you, twisted little
crawlers they are. You insist to
the suits that the heroine should
die young and alone. This is her
catharsis. No more pity, no
more fear. You hold your breath like a
riddle, turning their doubt on its
head. You borrow science. Under
the table cloth, your fingers rub
the fertile thicket between your
legs. Once your sex has perfumed the
air, you smile and ask them again.

It is a normal Saturday. My mom and I go shopping
at the Ross in Encinitas next door to the Barnes & Noble.
The shopping carts are dressed with poles that go up to
the ceiling. We aren’t supposed to take the carts outside.
Because this is Encinitas, they are safe. But in Vista,
the poles would collect like lumber. Mothers would push
their children home in stolen carts, blocking the sun
with umbrellas. This week, I love everything celestial.
Anything midnight blue covered with suns and stars
and moons. For the art fair, I'd painted a face that was
half sun, half moon. It was my first stab at pointillism, or,
as I saw it, dipping a Q-tip in paint and covering the paper
in dots. My painting didn’t place, but my drawing of my
mom’s red Volkswagen Beetle got an honorable mention.
In the book section, I find a guide covered in a galaxy.
It claims it can predict a person’s personality from their
birthday. It tells me I’m thoughtful and hate being told what
to do. This seems accurate. Mom flips through the book
to her own birthday. It says she is materialistic and stubborn.
She reaches for her wallet to pay. When we get to my
grandma’s house, my aunt snaps at my mom for buying
“that occult book.” I flip to her day. The book says she is
self-centered with strong convictions. I tell her I’m keeping it.
Each time a boy smiles at me, I ask what his birthday is.
It's never compatible with mine. When I finally find a match,
he doesn’t like me back. I ask the book why it lied to me.
It says, I can only tell you what would work, not what
will happen. Do I look like a damn Ouija board?

No Soup for You.
She says, “You only eat what comes in a box
or a bag.” Choosing her cooking over fast food
is like baking with water and margarine.

She pan-fries burgers with only salt and pepper.
Her fried chicken peels from the bone in leather
strips. The eggs were missing from the last
cake, and there are eggshells in this one.

I can taste that she doesn’t want to cook,
each bite a playground apology that happens
when the teacher is watching. When I cook,
each ingredient cries and says sorry for years.

At Christmas, I made Chicken Gnocchi soup.
She went to the store for me. I told her to get
eight servings of groceries. “There’s only four
of us,” she said. She came back from the store

with four servings. I made the soup, then
fell asleep. When I woke up, everyone was
eating soup without me. The man who used
to be mayor scraped the rest from the pot.

The next day, she asked me to make four
servings of soup. I could have made eight
yesterday. “Blame the mayor,” she says.
“Without him, we would have had enough.”

Lauren Yates is a Pushcart-nominated poet who is currently based in Philadelphia. Her writing has appeared in Nerve, XOJane, FRiGG, Umbrella Factory, Softblow, and Melusine. Lauren is also a poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly and a member of The Mission Statement poetry collective. She is currently a Poet in Residence with the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University. Aside from poetry, Lauren enjoys belly dancing, baking quiche, and pontificating on the merits of tentacle erotica. For more information, visit