C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

WHAT PLAY IS THIS?; THIRD GRADE; SCAPEGOAT

By: Claire Scott


WHAT PLAY IS THIS?

Definitely the wrong play. I had auditioned for the lead in Siren Song. The neurotic

alcoholic wife who is cheating on her husband. Thought it would be great fun.

Close to home. But how did I get in this boring play. Hardly any lines. Just a dull

housewife who plays solitaire while stroking her cats. Her big line is, “But I already

fed Lucy and Petunia.” Who cares about cats anyway. And I am allergic. Sneezing

through rehearsals. The lead woman has fat thighs and fake hair. She gets the sexy

man with a two-day beard who totally ignores me. Both on stage and off. Even

when I wear stiletto heels with leg-gripping jeans and gobs of make up. Even when

I invite him for a few drinks after rehearsals and who knows what might happen

later I whisper as I touch his cheek with my Bold Cherry Red acrylic nails. I have

sent my resume and headshots to over six hundred directors. Two in Kazakhstan.

Five in Burkina Faso. Apparently this is as good as it gets. At least for me. Today the

producer said the play is closing. Only twelve tickets sold. All to me.






THIRD GRADE

The teacher taps me on the shoulder

time for another trip to Mrs. Gardener

who asks a lot of questions

is your mother home after school

what did you eat for dinner last night

who leans over her desk and looks at me

with soft green eyes, glistening lipstick

and upper arms that jiggle as she writes

her office smells of lilac


I am scared of her, scared of a wrong answer

should my mother have been home

does it count if she locks herself in her room

and won’t answer when I knock

is Spaghetti O’s with burnt lima beans

a real dinner if my mother doesn’t eat

only drinks endlessly from a glass with ice

and throws noodles at the cupboards

clapping if they stick


This time she reads questions from a Test

I know it is Serious

I look at my lap when I answer

my school uniform bunched at my knees

my saddle shoes tapping the legs of the chair

I think I am doing pretty well until she asks

if I count church bells when they ring

I know one answer is right

the other means I am crazy


Mrs. Gardner smiles, encouraging

her pencil poised like a guillotine







SCAPEGOAT

See: Leviticus, chapter 16

And two goats were brought before the priest,

one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering.

Lots were caste. One goat was slain. The other took

on the sins of the congregation and was sent

forth into the wilderness.


I don’t know about killing one of the goats,

animal rights folk would not be so keen on it, but I think

we could all use a personal scapegoat who lets us silently

pile our misdeeds on his wooly head: the petty foibles,

the stolen nights, the white lies and bottles of bourbon.


I clicked on Amazon and ordered a large Saanen goat

who arrived last night, a stinking ball of bleating

and farting fur that ate my prize-winning roses

and head-butted me with gnarly horns.

I fed him hay and tin cans and began to recite my sins:


sticky fingers in the tip jar, deductions to nonexistent

charities, stealing Percoset from my eighty-year-old aunt.

He wasn’t at all interested and ate my peonies.

I continued with come-hither Kate and Leslie of the big boobs.

I noticed my goat was staggering around the yard,


falling to his knobby knees.

This is not how it is supposed to go.

I apologized and took back a few minor peccadillos:

a lingering kiss with Leslie next door, a forgotten first anniversary.

I put them in my pockets along with some used Kleenex.


Then I let him loose in the local park,

the closest I could come to a wilderness.

Hours later two police officers arrive in a van,

my goat standing proudly in the back,

chomping on the polyester seat.







Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

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