One of our six Pushcart nominations, Ocean Vuong’s “Self-Portrait with Exit Wounds,” has won a Pushcart Prize and will be featured in the next Pushcart anthology. The poem first appeared in ASSARACUS ISSUE 08. Congratulations, Ocean!
NOW AVAILABLE FROM SIBLING RIVALRY PRESS
Loria Taylor’s SOB chronicles the manic metronome of the quest for psychological stability. Malingering, funny, and self-aware, these poems are Plath on Prozac.
ON FRIENDLY TERMS
How’s this for dirt.
You know about the first time.
No need to reiterate.
The chair was fun.
The couch was okay.
The car had its charm.
The bed was nice.
On my knees was not. Remember how I made you choose whether you wanted me to give you attention or get your towel wet by putting it under my knees in the shower because I was tired of getting bruises. Remember how you actually paused to consider which would be better or worse.
The best I ever had was on your bathroom counter. The soap was rattling, unseen objects crashing, as you were going going going ‘til gone. To this day, despite however I think of you, I am quite fond your bathroom.
The dirtiest thing I ever did was fake it.
The dirtiest thing I ever did was take it.
A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER
(originally published at BryanBorland.com)
I first laid eyes on Loria Taylor when she moved from North Carolina to my Arkansas neighborhood when we were both in the 5th grade. If one got their hands on our yearbook from those days, my photo would reveal a basketball-like chubby face; Loria’s would demonstrate a perm-gone-wrong. Still, though we passed in the halls, counted each other out of swing-sets, and shared some mutual friends, we wouldn’t form our own bond until the 10th grade, when Mrs. Matheny assigned us to stage a production of Julius Caesar for our English class. Naturally, I was Caesar and Loria was some sort of witch. The scene we were assigned involved ketchup as a blood-substitute. I was wearing a toga and socks: fashionable, if not entirely historically-accurate attire. When it came time to spread the ketchup around me in my key scene, when I was ready for my closeup, Loria intentionally aimed at my feet and ruined a perfectly good pair of socks and my acting debut. So I did what any fifteen-year-old toga-clad boy would do. I spit in her hair.
We’ve been friends ever since.
Flash forward a couple of years to the illustrious Senior Awards Banquet at our High School. We’d both taken Creative Writing and we’d both been awarded the title of “Most Likely to Win a Pulitzer.” But we couldn’t share what we both desperately wanted: the coveted Creative Writing Pendant (which was actually a plastic brooch etched with a tiny replica of a pencil). Because we were both unwittingly and unknowingly gay-men-in-training, Loria and I daydreamed of winning the Pendant, attaching it to our Calvin Klein denim vests and/or our National Young Leadership Conference T-shirts, and strolling through the local mall’s music store, where we’d fight over the sole copy of a bargain-bin George Michael cassette. (“He’s so dreamy,” Loria would sigh. “I’m going to marry him one day.”) Afterwards, we’d sit in the Cafe Court and sip Cokes while the winner of the Pendant would attract the jealous glances of passersby, a courageous few of which would approach and ask for an autograph. After all, by this time in 1997, Loria had written a story about a teenage girl smitten with a straight, English pop star and I’d completed a novel that read like a homoerotic Saved By the Bell episode. In other words, the stakes were high, and our reputations were on the line.
In the end, I won the Pendant.
Suffice to say, Loria was crushed. She locked herself in her room for hours, listening to George sing “Careless Whisper” again and again. To console her, I made a promise that when I became a famous writer with my own publishing company, I’d offer her a book contract with a miniscule royalty rate and multiple required speaking obligations. She would also have to let me make use of her swimming pool should, in her adult life, she have access to one.
Through her tears, she accepted my offer, and fourteen years later, I can finally announce that pre-orders are open for SOB by Loria Taylor.
I keep my promises.
- Bryan Borland
Loria Taylor lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her adopted dogs, ringtones, expired sliced turkey, and freckles. She has previously been published in Literature and Medicine, Breadcrumb Scabs, and vox poetica. SOB is her first book. For more about Loria, visit her website, www.loriataylor.com.