The Poetry Project

8th Grade Layer Cake

Kayla Ephros

the horny 8th graders in my art class
are all taller than me and it is
their performance of coupledom
under the table
all the shaved knees knocking
gobstopper manicures and remember
ink poisoning?

the other day Iʼm looking for
money from the old me
and feeling guilty for it too,
feeling like a flimsy
piece of trash
digging in the pockets of
my misfits jacket with
the visitor sticker

visiting the 5th graders
who are still kind
I am meant to teach them science
but itʼs easy, we talk about
mind/body or landscape
but imaginary…

cross-section layers
biodegradable dolls
mind/body wigs
body extensions
exquisite corpse
doll burial
safety costumes

when I was in 8th grade,
I was told that wearing a sweatshirt
all winter
would create the effect of
bigger boobs come spring

I think of the Jubilee
the renewal of the land
my haftarah and its
always cheating all the time freeze-ing
that sweatshirt with the cat pee

the other night I was working
at a brothel and this guy
in a Spiderman thong asked me
If I actually had boobs
I was about to show him but then
just said yes
and walked down the long
hallway identical to the one
in my apartment
Iʼm certain itʼs only a veil
certain I woke up with
those wages

sleeping beside the spell book
and the almanac, ever a keepsake
waking up to my naked neighbor
amidst the bamboo, having
come straight down the mountain
speaking with Joanna of inky
art projects, shooing Spiderman
because he found me there too

turning over into a new kind
of sleep, a version
that’s brighter
like if sleep were a job
I’d be paid better

all of the brothel rooms have
windows on the doors
big cracks, leaks
for looking on

deja-vu and movies, party girl
and the other party girl

up and down and open
and shut and up and down
and in and out until the
mirror shatters

I reverse this omen
into a time capsule
while the early chapters at the brothel
lie beneath the scalloped
edge of each day,
an ant farm

we used to treat our science teacher
like an ant, of course because
we all felt like ants ourselves
punished, low

I imagine sometimes getting high
before class, but now
Iʼm the teacher

body extensions
exquisite corpse

at work I never know
what anyone is talking about
when he says how quiet it is
I say
I guess we are now used to
the drum of rain?

I cry a tear with all this
information but itʼs just
from the sunscreen
the watercolor
the early morning

what have I learned today?
the origins of chrome yellow,
Marigold, what have I forgotten
the teacher survey
the plaid skirts
what time of year is it here
I never know if we’ve just summited
winter or summer, which
dent of vacation on the soft egg

I learned that if youʼre eating
you should just eat, and if youʼre walking
you should just walk but if youʼre eating
and walking you should just eat and walk

Issue 15