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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

The lady lobster is lucky,; Dear John; Easy

By: C. Prudence Arceneaux

The lady lobster is lucky,

she gets to pee

everywhere [fanning it, so to speak]. It is

the evolution of humans that these events—

urination, showers of gold—are things to be

hidden, however accidental. She doesn’t

have to pause in her thought, inevitably

forgetting about the he- lobster there

and instead the he- lobster who was there—

bigger claws he had, maybe? A reaction time

like a mantis shrimp?—She doesn’t have to worry

about who will lie in the wet spot. Does she have

the option to decide how to molt? Head first? Feet

first? Or does it simply start unbidden, like the dilation

of pupils when the human male stretches the smell

of his sweat like old still soil, still fertile, still

waiting. Does she get to watch him posture as she elbows

her way out of the old man? Or does she back out of the past?

: the foot she lost in haste, the limb bud fleshy and full

of phantom story, why she styled the tiny hairs of her tail only

to have the swimmerets crushed. How long until her color returns?

Does she flush red at the thought of her new he- lobster

or play coy, leaving him wondering who all this stripping and peeing

is for? No matter. He stays, he waits. What takes her thirty minutes,

takes a human female thirty years.

Dear John

Every woman should have a man like you.

A married man who treats her

like another man’s property, always

careful not to show signs of wear, signs of use.

A man who brings the smell of another woman

when he rustles between her thighs, so heavy

she can taste the first on his eyes, his hair.

Every woman needs a man like you. A man

who will teach her about animals

and fear, show her how to gently expose

the white- white of her eyes. With you, she will

learn to smell fear. How it is damp and sticky,

muggy and runny, the last days of a period.

The important waiting for no thing. Show her

how the smell starts under her scalp, then

it is under her nose so she can smell

her own body posturing.

A man like you will then teach her to be afraid,

scenting the air for the smell he brought

to her bed. Your kind can teach a woman

to speak in whispers because she must speak,

but you ask her to lower her voice.

And a woman deserves a man who will teach her to fear drink.

Show her the lip of the beer bottle, so like

the smooth lip of a man’s penis. Train her to hold

the bottle just so in her hand, just so in her teeth.

A woman must have a man like you who compares her

to another woman, who says his wife’s golden hair

is nothing like the brown bleed of her skin, contrast

his wife’s clocklike moans to her musk groans. A man

like you will confide these things, make a woman’s skin move

to the words. You will treat her like your wife, only

ten years ago, and allow a woman into a fantasy she never knew

she wanted. She will faint with her own disgust.

Every woman deserves a man like you. A married man

who shows her how to undo her weave, slowly

and gently, thread by thread, as if each section

she’d finished had been wrong all along, but with no more

attention to the process than he gives his wife. And when

the pieces bound by her blood and spit are reduced

to a void of thread, she will remember the fat sky

and lazy clouds you both lay under and remember

that a man like you will remind her of all she has

already sacrificed for what you were too ashamed

to call love.


I think this is what the end must be like,

when a person says till death do us part;

who will die first, and will you look good

in your bed of satin?

It’s sunning outside in big fat drops;

chase the puddles of it along

the sidewalk, listen to the slap

of your flesh colored feet

on the concrete, the way dry skin

moves and whispers

under the hope of moisture.

I’m beginning to notice I forget

the things I should. Finally, there is space

to think about how a hand folds

to the contour of a jaw, supporting

the head, how my back bent cleanly,

without a wrinkle, over the crook of his arm

as he slid me into the dip of the dance,

cleanly, without a sigh, looking

at that last drop of sun

fall slowly over the sill.


C. Prudence Arceneaux, holds a BA from The University of New Mexico and an MFA from Southwest Texas State; a native Texan, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Austin Community College, in Austin, TX. Her poetry has appeared in various journals, including Limestone, New Texas, Whiskey Island Magazine, Hazmat Review, Inkwell and African Voices. A chapbook of her work, DIRT (2017), was awarded the 2018 Jean Pedrick Prize.


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