Cathleen Allyn Conway is a poet and journalist. Her work has appeared in Bitch, Magma, Cliterature, South Bank Poetry, Full of Crow, The Beat, Ink Sweat & Tears and 3:AM Magazine. Originally from Chicago, she now lives in London, where she is working on a PhD in poetry at the University of Greenwich. Her first pamphlet, Static Cling, is published by dancing girl press.
Morning, ten hours after arrival, light
slatted through shades like 80s sunglasses,
you unwrapped your package.
Was I not what you ordered?
Late night at a filling station in Anaheim,
trying to hand over gas money you refused,
your hand finger-picking skiffle
on the denim-ridges of my knee.
“Old Tom Waits or new Tom Waits?”
His blues beat stirs the west
coast air that steeped my lungs.
And later, in the dark,
the dark that hid orange-peel thighs,
go-faster stripes ripping across my belly,
I thought of the Observatory, the Valley,
the Hollywood sign, so surprised it wasn’t lit.
Previously published in South Bank Poetry #7.
Her voice quavers as she issues commands,
hands shaking as she picks up the spit-slicked
cat-o’-nine tails to snap at the apples of his ass-cheeks.
He snatches the whip, leather burning her fingers,
flicking his wrist, mouth slack:
No, no! You’re doing it wrong! Like this!
Her stomach jumps as acid bubbles rise,
force her to lurch his spiked champagne.
She pushes up from the bed, runs to the dark
bathroom, where piss rivulets splash the toilet bib,
retching gullet burning, as the rough snort of cocaine
off the kitchen counter rockets through the flat.
Breath choked, she scrapes snot ropes from her nose,
squints in the shadows, as he parks a chair in the hall,
cushion farting under his bare skin. You’re still my mistress;
you’re still in control, he says, tongue lolling,
rubbery cock bouncing in his palm,
bulging eyes glassy, like a butchered cow.
Previously published in 3:AM Magazine.
Inanna in Illinois
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.
– Ishtar to the gatekeeper of the underworld
What you wanted was Inanna, sozzled goddess,
rolling up in a chariot Camaro, stinking of cheap
beer and cheaper cigarettes, hair stiff from the scalp,
acid-washed jeans tucked in fake leather boots.
Your Inanna tramps across the state line,
between the twin rivers of the Calumet,
looking for you in strip clubs and dive bars,
truck stops and no-tell motels,
to drag you home, curl up on your bed,
stretch her sparkling claws, before buoyantly
unwrapping the hot pink spandex g-string
with your name on the crotch in gold glitter.
But what you got was a different Inanna:
Instead of spreading her holy legs, waxed
temple welcoming, silicone hot from the
tanning bed, body taut from pole dancing,
your Inanna rose from the Underworld,
sucked you into her squall, weeping rain
from grey eyes wild like the iron Atlantic,
grist in her teeth and blood on her mouth.
from Static Cling (dancing girl press, 2012).
Order Static Cling.