That one almost made it by me: Duval being the tango expert.
He must've picked that one from a book: 100 Hobbies
No One Practices Any More. Of course that made sense: he committed
To the nearly believable act. In that we search god, at the margin
Call of the soul. It's always crass talking about religion, about that
Which binds us. No one wants to be exposed the closet masochist.
But only when we admit bondage do we gain admittance to the kingdom.
And if there's one thing AA taught me it's surrender -- being the good
Sheep, the grateful, cheek-turning man. So when Duval came by
To tell me all about his Latina amiga, I hoped his thing would rot
Off, not in any specific way -- like a fifth step or something,
I almost believed him. Yes, I admit, I coveted and wanted for myself
(it's all about me, you know) and the system rewarded me, bing bang
Boom: here's your pellet. As I was saying, Duval told me, probably
Embellished every fact, then lied about exaggerations, which made it fiction.
There was no Latina amiga and his dick rotted off years ago. I had his money,
The house, the chick.  Duval told me stories that I couldn't quite believe.
He even told me the story of my money, my house and my chick. I could
Swear to you it wasn't like that, that there hadn't been a flood or an earth
Quake. Would you believe me? Would you believe me if I told you how
It rained that summer? No cellar stayed dry that summer.  Duval knew
That story by heart.  He offered self-crucifixion. The symbolism
Wasn't lost on anybody. Only the wood from a secret rainforest
Suited his needs and there was a delay in finding his Michealangelo
Who could craft the thing. If nothing else, Duval had class. But something else
Important happened, someone cheated on his wife, and the holy day had to be
Indefinitely postponed. No one seemed to care that Duval crawled
Up the cross, for a better view of the city, he took the fifth, later claimed
Insanity and it all made sense. He writes letters now about white beaches
And beautiful dames he's on, photos enclosed, his pictures smiling.

Claudia Grinnell


I hope you're reasonably well groomed and flossed after brushing
Your teeth for 3 minutes this morning. You should've had coffee
And a lightly buttered bagel and maybe some fruit. A good breakfast is
To your success with women. Naturally, you want women, lots of them. 
Each one younger and tighter than the previous, until you've fucked your way
all the way to the beginning. There you are: brand-spanking new. 
What shall we do first? Put some clothes on? Have some fruit?
You shouldn't worry so much about the mortgage and the trendlines. I need
You, fully focused. I need to be watered and walked.  If we divorce now,
you'll lose
The house (didn't you always want the white-picket fence, the apple tree, and
the dog
Running full out to greet you when you return from whatever job you escaped
And the small of my back. I need twenty dollars to get my nails done,
To better rake them across your feet. I need glasses to better see
The lines on your face. I need to smile, to show my teeth -- all that I have
To offer.  Are my seams straight? Is there gas in the tank?  C'mon, let's split
This joint. It's boring here.  No one's gotten killed since Louis lost
Control over his Chevy and ransacked the Miller's house.  You do remember
Louis, don't you? Kid with glasses, pimples, braces -- the whole sad burden
Of adolescence collected above his neck. Louis came over for beer last week.
It was like old times. We talked about you, how your head is slightly too big
For your neck, and how nobody ever figured out what that woman saw in you.

Claudia Grinnell
CLAUDIA GRINNELL teaches English at The University of Louisiana at Monroe. Her poems and fiction have appeared in numerous online and print journals such as Exquisite Corpse, Bottomfish, Hayden's Ferry Review,
New Orleans Review and Minnesota Review.
The Adirondack Review