Erica Kaufman

5 Poems

canine couture

i've stopped trusting
the beginnings of books
overwhelmed by quality
and quantity because you
know tonight's another
style another strip-
tease across the street
attracting only the more
measured types so full
of macho bluster like
the culprit caught stealing
a dachshund from that
pet shop window on
11th street a body
dangling from his hip.

facially speaking

in 1986 i look like a man. with a bowl cut and corduroy legs. it's hard to be tall. sturdy, mom says. at 7. it's hard to understand the difference between jaclyn and seth. between meredith and jarett. sweatsuits were so in. even the jackets came closed.

sometimes i'm afraid to lift my arm. to feel the crease of skin slide over my outstretched elbow. jordan klein says i have grandma arms. but my flesh looks so untransparent. barely any veins. it takes a long time to draw blood at the allergist. jennifer tam has arms like needles. so utilitarian. without excess.

in mr. motechin's class i am self conscious. i need to go. to leave. but it is hard to raise a hand when there are so many chameleons in sight. i want to take one home. name him floyd. green stretch pants turn black. seth's mom finds a dead lizard in his closet. i try to take a ferret home.

there's something about a lack of backbone. a certain flexibility. control. like using tweezers instead of a razor. my grandma used to draw her eyebrows on. i always knew when she was in a bad mood. diagonally speaking.


for corner pharmaceutical mumbles
for happy passenger recycling
for paper information greetings
for sushi expert video aids
for piccolo d├ęcor zone
for medical police service tolls
for many word lotto
for happen optical tavern
for lyric marble noodles
for buy liquors vintage now
for push ambient boxes what
for first frontier then center
for healing fancy word wounds
for still basics and travel
for petit hardware and iron cuts
for more industry for science
for wanted olympic spy-ware
for rare balms more mercury
for green reward halls
for futures of prohibited folding

proper business phone ethics

to make heads
and tails
only know the parts
you work on.

speak in third
person. grammatically
challenged in this vast
undifferentiated sea
of questions that aren't
that difficult. untimely.

remember. people want
to talk to a person. up
then at. and we are
an indulgent organization.
crafty at jargonification.

don't even say
"sure." manage up.
create a delightful
interlude. welcome
in august. backwards.
impossible in june.

for anthony robinson

i want sentences. to make sense.
in the post post post structuralist way.
want barbie to topple. the way she
should. want my hands to age.
the redness to be arthritis not
frostbite. want to use apostrophes
as commas because nothing.
is that possessive. i used to hoard
old sneakers. a kid with candy
in the closet. now i fill trash bags
with clothes that fit. i like this
showing. like you in all
your languages. body. bullets.
paragraphenalia. today i think.
waist. want. put on. my cargo
shorts and strut between
couch and computer. between
balance and overdrawn.
i feel like a checkbook
missing monthly interest.
i know it's there. acquired.
never met. i never thought
about barbells. about piercing
my nipples. the ringlets small.
i miss. i am miss. admit to singular.
can't conjugate smitten. alone.

Erica Kaufman is originally from Bloomington, Indiana, but if you ask her she will claim to be a New York native. That is where she lives and has a few jobs and co-curates the belladonna reading series/small press. Erica is the author of from the two coat syndrome (self-published) and the kickboxer suite (boog literature, 2004). Her poems can also be found in Puppyflowers, Painted Bride Quarterly, Bombay Gin, The Mississippi Review, among other places. She likes dogs and mild weather.