Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, (Storylandia Press). Her poetry collection, Pretty in A Hard Way, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019. Her collection, The Pretend Life, was published by Atmosphere Press in February 2020. A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult life in Detroit.
The night, a question I can’t
answer, subsumes me. It whispers,
Let’s make a deal. You can’t see
everything. That’s part of the fun.
I don’t choose so the party chooses
me. I only love a room once everyone
has left it, a crime scene in which I
search for clues, a narrative. You
can’t understand something until it’s
over. And what do I find? I won’t reveal
anything except to say I write to you
in invisible ink, my words bleeding
into the night with all the other ones.
And let’s face it, if this story has a happy
ending, I’ll be as surprised as you are.
The bathroom attendant asks me when
my shift begins. In my silver dress, I look
like a shake dancer. Soon, I tell her, giving
her a dollar for the peppermint she offers me.
I look for my friends, the sounds of the casino,
of luck and loss, surround me. I spot a dwarf
wearing a beret adorned with glitter riding
a scooter. He wheels toward me and yells,
“What are you looking at?” I tell him I’m
waiting for my shift to start, and he softens.
“First day?” he asks. I nod. “Shake it like you
mean it,” he says, rolling away to put quarters
in the Count Chocula slot machine. I find my
friends at the bar ordering expensive cocktails
that appear as if they are on fire, smoke from dry
ice enveloping them until you’re left with vodka
and fruit juice. I take a sip, thinking about how
I could get the same thing for half the price down
the street but I’m not paying for the drink. You
never pay for just the drink. You pay for the show.