Karen J. Weyant


Mark Cohen

Point Last Seen

She was at the truck stop off Exit 62, talking to a driver with curly black hair. She was outside Soaps-n-Suds smoking a cigarette. She was walking out along the old industrial park on Route 949. She wore a Yankees t-shirt, a Steelers sweatshirt, a dark hoodie. She was wearing jeans, green overalls, a long flowered skirt. She was wearing high top sneakers. She was wearing boots. She was at the Tastee Freeze near the old little league fields. She ordered a burger without onions or pickles. She ordered a bottle of water. She was at West End park leaning against the ladder of the slide. She was sitting on the jungle gym. She was wearing a baseball cap. She was the last customer at C&J’s store on South Avenue. She bought Altoids and Newports. She bought cherry chapstick. The stockboy checked her out. It was her. He was sure.

Self Portrait as a Chain-link Fence Girl

On dares and double-dog-dares, they scaled the rattling fence outside the car parts plant. They took potshots at pockmarked No Trespassing Signs, at cracked windows until the glass broke, until darkness winked at them, until someone called the cops. Skinny and tough, skin pulled tight over their wrists and ankles, their ribcage, they wore cut-off jeans, strings dangling and dirty, T-shirts untucked by summer heat and rough play. They kept pennies in their pockets, sucked pixy sticks until sugar spotted their lips. They loved everything metal, did handstands on railroad tracks and guardrails, stole Stop signs, bent bits of screen into bracelets, even wove bits of brillo pads into their hair. No curfews, no bedtimes. I wanted the burnt orange streaks of rust that stained their bare legs and the palms of their hands. I wanted the cobalt polish on their nails, the blush of a police siren on my cheeks. I spent my summer looking at my reflection in cracked mirrors at the park’s restrooms, in bumpers of parked trucks smudged with dirt. I was a spoke worked loose from a bicycle, a speed limit sign, the girl who sat on the park’s swing and wrapped its chain ropes taut with each turn, waiting to let go, waiting to spin.

The Spitting Girl

Neighborhood boys shuffled along dusty streets, hands deep in their pockets, sunflower seeds tucked in their bottom lips. Practicing for real chew, they aimed for moss growing on the wrong sides of the trees. I skulked behind them, untied sneakers scuffing crumbling stone, a scrawny shadow of a girl who gurgled until I matched the raw ripples that rang from their throats. I used the backyard for practice, hit a tomato plant, the edge of the garden shed, a shovel left out overnight. You spit like a girl, the boys laughed, their sharp taunts pushed me more. Fireballs burned my throat, made me spit red, grape popsicles froze my lips, made me spit purple, Bazooka minus comic strips, made me spit pink. Black licorice became my favorite, my mother’s petunia bushes a target, every spatter a splatter that dribbled down white petals, like my older sister when she cried mascara tears. I clipped a bouquet for the kitchen table, flowers full of black ants and evidence of good aim.

Silly Boys, Jeeps Are For Girls

as seen on a bumper sticker

Girls who wear tight tank tops, let loose bra straps slip from their shoulders.
Girls with hair tucked under baseball caps, strands curly, damp, ends split.
Girls who pierce their ears at home with a sewing needle and apple slice.
Girls with pink cheeks pinched tight from the wind.
Girls who smell like lilacs and Liz Claiborne, Budweiser and burned rubber.
Girls who never let you drive even when they have had too much to drink.
Girls with windshield wiper fluid splashed on the insides of their wrists.
Girls who wear Kmart cubic zirconia on their ring fingers.
Girls who like the sting of sun-scorched seats and steering wheels.
Girls with blue jeans dried stiff from clotheslines, taut through the thighs.
Girls who let their shocks rock with Johnny Cash or Kurt Cobain.
Girls who drive barefoot, red polish shimmering like puddles of leaking oil.
Girls who try to leave by backroads, brims without guardrails, lined with gravel.
Girls who chew Big Red or Beechnut and blow bubbles that skew their view.
Girls who think Stop, Drop and Roll when the back wheels finally flip.

Karen J. Weyant’s most recent work can be seen or is forthcoming in Cave Wall, Copper Nickel, Harpur Palate, The Tusculum Review and River Styx. Her chapbook, Stealing Dust, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. She lives in Pennsylvania but teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. She is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship and a SUNY-wide Chancellor’s Award for excellence in scholarship and creative activities.

Karen J. Weyant’s blog, The Scrapper Poet

Karen J. Weyant at Avatar Review

Karen J. Weyant at Hobble Creek

Karen J. Weyant at Finishing Line Press