MK Chavez is the author of Virgin Eyes (Zeitgeist Press), Visitation, Next Exit #9 (with John Sweet) and Pinnacle (Kendra Steiner Editions). You can find her recent and upcoming work in Generations, This is Poetry and Zone 3. She has been a fellow at Squaw Valley Writers Conference, Antioch Writers Workshop and VONA. She is co-founder and co-curator of the Berkeley-based monthly reading series Lyrics & Dirges and co-organizer of the Berkeley Poetry Festival and she likes getting sticky whenever she gets the chance.
I Married the Small Press
It happened like the things
that happen when you drink too much.
We’re a bad couple
we break up every other week. I’m embarrassed
by the small press. Just the other day:
We’re at a poetry reading
and it starts to drink
watered down wine. The small press
gets piss ass drunk and complains loudly
that the writers suck.
I ignore it as long as I can
but when it starts talking shit
“The small press is lame,
it’s a pile of crap.”
I’m forced to pull it aside,
“Listen you idiot, you ARE
the small press.”
It stares at me and I watch as recognition slowly
creeps across its wasted face and then it starts to cry.
I want to walk away but it’s wrapped
its junkie arms around me and is clinging on.
“Do you still love me?” it whines. And I can’t help
thinking about the good times,
all the fucking in hotel rooms
and the late nights in bars
and the shoe licking in bathroom stalls
and all of the mementos that it leaves behind,
odd shaped chapbooks and little match sized booklets
with my poetry written inside.
I remember that this loser
is a romantic and that in a bar brawl
I want it on my side
because the preppy fucker
from the university is a sissy cunt
who can’t throw any kind of punch
and then I remember the way the small press
looks when it’s been properly laid
and I look at its gimpy, twisted up, tattooed, alcohol-bloated
body and I can’t help myself. I slap its ass, cop a feel
and whisper into its ear “Shut up fucker. You know
we’re stuck with each other. Don’t you? ”
Everything that I Needed to Know about Writing I Learned from Being a Stripper
Each no brings you closer to yes,
you just have to keep at it.
Sometimes it’s the ugliest of moments that brings you closer
to the money shot. Beauty is ethereal, you might be
the most beautiful girl to one and a leper to another.
In the audience you will find flat-eyed faces
looking at you like you’re deformed
and then you’ll find
the lovers of the deformed
and they’ll make you god for a few minutes
and that’s all any one needs.
I learned that it all adds up.
Words on a napkin become poems, poems on a page
become books. It’s something
you can hold in your hand.
And the dollar that the idiot gave you to sit on his lap
disappears into a stack of bills
and it’s something
you can hold in your hand.
It all adds up.
Some days are good and you’re gold
and other days you’re wading through mud
like a starving pig, looking for scraps
and you can’t figure out what you’re doing
in the cesspool of dead words and men
who come to the club to jack off at 11am but don’t
have any money to tip. When you approach
the altar you’re hoping for a masterpiece, a hundred dollar bill,
you might get excited for the twenties
but you’ll take the fives. You take what you can get.
Somewhere along the line you’ll become addicted
to the heat that comes from writing a good poem
or earning your rent in one night. There aren’t
many rules, just remember not to fall in love
with the customers, or your words and if you feel exposed
you’re doing something right.