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3 poems by Cathleen Allyn Conway


The people I have to buy presents for are 

my twin Lizzie, two friends, my mom, my dad, 

and my brother Steven. Right now I am moving down 

Madison Avenue after spending an hour standing 

in a daze near the staircase at Ralph Lauren on 72nd, 

staring at cashmere sweater vests, confused, hungry; 

when I finally take hold of my bearings, I’m not whirling 

breathlessly in the flashing lights of Tunnel, Mick Jagger

isn’t touching my arm and saying, Pardon me, this next 

dance is mine; an agent is not proclaiming me the Next 

Top Model, nor will my face be on the cover of Ingenue 

within weeks. Strolling Tiffany’s glittering aisles, no one

rushes up to say, look how the jewels match your blue-green 

eyes! It is a gift to see you wear them. I leave, yelling I am 

ready for New York, but is New York ready for me?! and 

move down Fifth to Saks, emeralds tingling my spine. 

Date with Evelyn

I imagine the whole scenario quite clearly: 

They are all drinking her parents’ champagne, 

blueberry cassis and Cristal, when I arrive, 

and Evelyn, a tall, sleek brunette in Anne Klein 

and antique gold earrings that cost, roughly, 137 

thousand dollars, gives a tinkly little laugh. ‘Oh, 

you mean like in chaperone?’ and hands a glass 

of plum wine to me. I can hardly stand up, the 

room seems impossible, appears so much older.

If only I could have parties like this, with Evelyn 

on Mars and her deafening whine a Maserati, her 

father’s cellar a big dizzy estate in Connecticut, 

and sprawled in the backseat of an unappealing cab 

I idly wonder if I should cut them up, fill the bath 

with Evelyn, bump into tables of Malcolm, trip 

over James, drink David like liquor from a glass.


I want to see him bleed.

I want to see blood bubble out his nose 

I want to see him tied up with wire; his mouth, his face, his balls, all duct-taped 

I want him to scream when I push 

I want him to hear that I hate him, that he’s the most awful person I’ve ever met 

I want him to know New York doesn’t compare to a new pair of culottes

I want to see him look like Prince Charming

I want him to hand me a glass, to kiss me 

I want to see he has more in mind than kissing

I want him to slap my arms to the couch

I want his mouth on my throat 

I want to see the lights blaze at my hostess’s apartment 

I want her to see I am gloved in her daughter’s dress 

but it is dark and chilly and the ride through Central Park isn’t fun anymore.


Cathleen Allyn Conway is a creative writing PhD student at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is the author of Static Cling (Dancing Girl Press, 2012) and All the Twists of the Tongue (Grey Book Press, 2018). Originally from Chicago, she lives in London with her partner and son. Find her on Twitter @CatAllynC.


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