Size / / /

The woman in the back of Fritzel's
keeps a scalpel in her purse.

She dips a finger in her gin,
pushes the lemon to the bottom.

She's sat through four bands
on open-mike night, four versions

of "Piece of My Heart." She's waiting
for a traveler, someone with a suitcase

and a charge card to settle
her long bar tab and take her

back to his room. One man
woke in his bath packed in ice like a fish,

a telephone and a note near his hand,
'Call the hospital or you will die.'

He went to the mirror,
found two long slits like gills

on his back. He thought of his last
Bloody Mary, the strange woman

who pulled the covers over him
like a net. Afterwards, her body

curled and hard, a baited hook.
Tomorrow, he will learn

that even kidneys are bought and traded,
that you could live with just one.

If he sleeps, he will dream of water,
of moving through treacherous seas

and arriving almost intact.


Copyright © 2002 Jamie Wasserman

Reader Comments

Jamie Wasserman's poetry and fiction have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Weber Studies, Flesh and Blood, Vampire's Dan Story Emporium, Magma, Clay Palm Review, frisson, and dozens of others. His poem "Why I Believe in Ghosts" received an honorable mention from the 2002 Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology. For more about him, visit his website.

Bio to come.
Current Issue
5 Jun 2023

Jackson sat at Kay’s bedside, one of her hands laid atop his, palm to palm, fingertips against the soft inside of her wrist. His fingers measured her temperature and pulse, her blood pressure, and her blood oxygen levels. She was no weaker or stronger today than yesterday. He was unsurprised and uneasy. Her vitals were regular with sleep. She had been resting when he returned from the shore.
You do not mean this as slang.
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