Blue Beaumont dark reminds me I’ve flown
into unknown land, the thick, sweet heat
as foreign as the professional air
of this conference. Listening to discourse
on deconstructionist feminist criticism,
I worry over my poems, just my own words,
after all. What if someone shouts, Throw this woman
out; she doesn’t give a damn about deconstruction?
But that’s tomorrow. Tonight, someone pulls me
into a car and we head to Port Arthur
Mardi Gras. Swallowed up in Cajun street songs,
I swig longnecks, sway among sequins. A girl
in a neon pink cat suit struts by, better than nude;
every man’s head turns. I’m not even jealous, so perfect
is she poured into spandex second skin.
We follow her to the Fo’c’s’le Bar
where the beer-bellied barkeep, waxing drunken,
throws Mardi Gras beads. That girl and I jostle forward,
squealing, Give us beads! We’re whores
for beads! The owner tosses cheap purple plastic
to her, then eyes me hard, and swirling
turquoise blesses the air, falls on my fingers,
a strand of perfect praise.
I learn the music of the street this night
and at next morning’s meeting – my first
public reading – I lose my literary
virginity. Stripped bare, I give this crowd
what they want. Now, I am the hot pink girl
exposing more than sex. My words
undulate to the bump and grind
and I read for love: an amethyst strand
kissing my skin.
Janice Northerns grew up on a rural Texas farm with a large dose of fundamentalist religion, leaving her feeling like an outsider at times. She enjoys exploring this outsider status through her poetry.
Her poems have appeared in Conference of College Teachers of English Studies, Southwestern American Literature, The Cape Rock, College English, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Poem, Sweet Tree Review, Visual Arts Collective – poetry, and elsewhere.
She currently lives in Kansas, where she teaches English at a community college.