Poetry by Sarah Rupp

Remunerative Labor

Where is my husband? All the rocks are pillowing down on me. Town square… Too many cats… All that, all that.

Yoo-hoo. I think my husband is cheating on me. If you’ve seen him, you would know. He has two sets of teeth.

My stomach contains an open grave. Limit yourself to two cats. Or your husband will.

I’m humbled by the mess of the starlings. Every husk has its time. They cloud up the skies. They are hundreds and more together than I’ve ever been with anyone. Somebody ran over an alligator. It is flat on Park Avenue.

I have nightmares where I find more kittens. I take ice baths. The indexical heat map shows the south on fire. Not Argento’s red and not the robin’s.

I never had a husband. The goats whisper to me on my promenade. I don’t compost but I put all peels under a shrub outside. I leave water ostensibly for dogs. But also for possums. I translate the YouTube speeches of birds.

My husband is salty with me. He wants me cured. He doesn’t know what the what I do. I’ve only ever seen his back. He was at a writing desk. He was at a bar. I was behind him, folding and refolding wet laundry.

I have fumigated this room of ghosts. I swept up bombs and glowworms. Imagine how long it took me. Doubt it, then double it. Triple it. Now I’ve opened everything. I am letting it all out. I want a pill that guarantees I do not have a single parasite. Not even the good ones.

The fleas have died. There is no breeze. Sublime still came on through the neighbor’s radio. I laughed until I coughed and wept. Boo-hoo. Love is… all he’s got. Sublime is in a dark room with a lost dalmatian. He hasn’t seen anyone in years. He’s not angry that the dog smokes pot. There must be ventilation in their box. Maybe he’s my husband. The man. The dog.

I have come all this way to hear you heckle me. I have come all this way because a bird hit my windshield. I have come all this way because my three cats have started a countdown. I do not know how they will finish it. Or when. But I don’t want to end up like Sublime.

It started when I put bowties on the kittens like I did to all my husbands. They eye me through the periscopes of their prehensile tails. To you tell the truth, I don’t think I have any cats. I don’t not have anyone, though. I have a few. They are better than husbands. Similar to cats.

Husband or no husband, in the rain or darkness I’ll be your guide. Here is a dance floor, here is a bingo hall. This is where I go. Soon I will be teaching a class on monsters. There is a drought and my office hours are daytime. These… are disappointments.

The cat is inspired to bite my pen. Now we kiss on the lips. He is twelve weeks old and probably my husband. Do you have kids. Where do you put your husband. Where do husbands go.

Why would my husband want a new lease on life. What could that ever, anywhere mean. I will ask my husbands, if they return. Have any leases ever gotten better. Maybe for the exceptional blackmailer. Not for me. I don’t have any credit. For a few years I lived in a mall.

I am on a workish lease and not allowed employment for the next three years. Everyday will be tiny monsters. I’ll have to feed them like my small husbands. Plus those damn melodramatic birds. I spoil them and I hate them. They remind me of thrifters and of myself.

There are so many monsters. I won’t know where to begin. Eleanor said, “With the husbands.”

While I marm it down, I will look for a moneymaker husband. He will be old and engrimed with semen. He will own large watches, oval glasses. I imagine him as a rusty Folgers can. I will shrink when he holds me and avoid looking at his nails. I am sorry to mention his nails. All kisses already smother me. I’ve never withstood the full duration of any hug. It doesn’t matter.

I’ll make him dinner and take his money. This will not break my other contract. It is not by the University’s legal standards Labor of Remunerative Nature. It is not, by their standards, labor at all.

*I can’t work, I got four bed rat / I can’t work / A bed rat / I  like the coke, a dry coke, then call Sarah / football’s on, Sarah! / Go on then, work forever, pork pie! / I thought I let them go, a dead rat / them four bed rats, then called Sarah / I got angry / I punched Paul the Rabbit, poor bed rat / “Football,” said Paul, then Brian let roar / I won’t get my bed by a bat / I can’t talk, they can’t blow a hair dryer / I can’t do it

Sarah Rupp is a communist and a poet who currently lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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