Thadra Sheridan

Thadra Sheridan is a poet, essayist, teacher, and performer from Minneapolis, MN.  She has been published in Moxie Magazine, Rattle, Specter, Talking Stick, and several anthologies.  She has won awards for her writing from the Faulkner Society and the National League of American Pen Women, and has been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, National Public Radio, UpWorthy, Button Poetry, and venues across the country, including San Quentin Penitentiary, where she scored serious points talking about her terrible taste in men.  She has been a member of four National Slam Teams, was a recipient of the Jerome Foundation’s Verve Grant for spoken word, and writes a weekly column for the online Op-Ed magazine, Opine Season.  She is currently working on a memoir and a series of essays.  If it has hurt, she will find a way to laugh at it.  She charges for pity, and she’s sick of waiting tables.

 

Three Poems (May, 2015. Issue 50.)

Fired

The day I was fired
the new stubby manager guy
called me into the office, where
the second manager,
stared at her hands.
I’d been arranging the pens in my apron
in the order in which
I was willing to lose them,
Giving the whole garment a spot clean,
or as we say,
hooker wash.
I’d been writing down the specials
when he leaned casual out the door,
can we talk to you for a sec?
He looked at me from over his
nasty little mustache, and said
we're terminating your employment,
like it was a
perfectly reasonable thing to do,
and he wasn't a horrible little bald man.

He followed me into the break room
and watched me from the doorway
while I cleaned out my locker,
like I was emptying my desk or cubicle,
putting potted plants and pictures of my kids
into a cardboard box
to be carried out in shame.
He’d escort me to assure
I didn’t make trouble.

If his mustache had been long enough,
he would have twirled it.
But it was just an
angry little brush of a thing,
squatting on his lip
like an unwanted tenant,
too narrow for Mark Twain
but too wide for Chaplin
or Hitler.
I didn't have any pass codes
or important keys,
I was just a waiter.
And I thought of saying
that he'd die in squalor,
unloved and painfully diseased,
while I would go down in infamy,
surrounded by adoring throngs.

But I wasn't really
sure of that,
so I just loaded my
brown paper bag with
pens and newspaper clippings and
a plastic container of granola, and
headed to my car.

Facts

Fact:
94% of heterosexual men become
immediately paranoid after sex
that the woman
now wishes to marry him.
He severs all lines of communication
to protect against
unintentional encouragement.
Of the remaining 6%
Three
scratch their butts and watch TV.
Two proceed with vehement stalking:
notes on cars,
unreasonably frequent phone calls,
unsolicited appearances at
inopportune moments;
stuff like that.
One percent
act like rational adults.
Maybe this is not so much
fact
as a bunch of numbers I just
pulled out of my ass,
but it bears striking credible resemblance
to you
expecting me
on your doorstep
with my father
toting a shotgun.
I haven’t seen my father in 8 years.
He lives 8 blocks away from me.
There are 64 squares on a chessboard,
two-hundred and some bones in the human body;
mostly in the hands and feet
-459.67 degrees Farenheit
is as cold as it can possibly get.
Once, in a moment of passion,
a man whispered,
“I stole your burgundy bra.”
Later I found that garment was,
in fact,
missing.
Most people found that creepy,
but I was secretly flattered, like
when Marc just couldn’t wait to get me home,
so his hands wandered in the backseat of a cab.
There’s something irresistible
about being so irresistible;
about someone stealing your underwear.
Penicillin
was a mistake,
so was nutrasweet.
Pearls dissolve in wine.
A day is actually slightly longer than
twenty-four hours.
I’m just looking for something to fill it.
That last time we were together was a deliberate accident.
I hadn’t made your cut,
so I had something to prove.
Don’t worry.
I’m dying slowly,
I think,
and I don’t have the time,
inclination,
or guts
to push the issue.
A dog’s jaws exert
100 pounds of pressure,
or something like that.
Sonic boom surpasses the speed of light.
Most people don’t realize that inertia
can mean constant, steady movement.
I can’t seem to pinpoint the right equation
to supplement stolen lingerie and
deliberate accidents.
I plug in variables
Encouragement,
timing,
enticing disinterest,
and consummation.
But it always comes out the same;
brief and meaningless.
And I’m already in my thirties;
43 years left in the average female lifespan,
maybe more,
with modern medicine.
If I had a kid now,
I’d be fifty
before they were twenty.
eight legs on a spider,
sixteen pints in a gallon,
Beethoven wrote nine symphonies;
ten, if you count that
last incomplete one.
And you won’t return my calls,
maybe just because you’re irresponsible,
but I’m afraid to contact you at all any more.
So I play out
twelve potential futures in my bathtub.
And I’m too lazy to look this stuff up,
so I’ve screwed it all up again.

Error

There wasn’t anything
all that special
standing in your kitchen,
leaned against the countertop
like a crutch that would keep
an evening of beer and exhaustion from
sliding me to the floor, except
this time,
we both wore the fragments
of our broken hearts
pinned to our lapels,
mine collecting dust,
yours freshly bleeding.
Aren’t we a pair, all
bluster and bravado,
as if
we talk loud enough,
smatter in enough curse words,
throw our shoulders back far enough,
it might keep all this weight from crushing us,
might fool passersby into thinking
we’re made from stronger stuff
than sugar spun glass.
But neither of us has ever
been able
to fool the other.
And in a moment snuck unwisely
we collapsed into each other like
a matchstick tower
giving up its balancing act,
A Vegas Casino
put out to pasture,
magnets freed from their restraints.
I’d never meant to be so flip
with our unruly beehive
of emotions.
You were a coveted prize I had
won unexpectedly.
But that perfect storm left me powerless,
buffeted.
We devoured each other
like there were guns to our heads,
and we each kept a jagged piece of the other
as a souvenir.

The Legendary