Editor’s Pick – Nick Allen

My other co-editor has singled out How to be Deposed by Elya Braden. This was a zeitgeist poem, picking up on the #metoo movement in a very inventive way. It was the Editor’s Choice winner picked by Antony Dunn (whose original comments are here).

Topicality is problematic unless you have a pretty quick turnaround with submissions, and usually we find that our normal one-month windows and fast processing allow for the odd one to creep in, with the scope for occasional poems that verge on the political (and I would argue this does).

I would probably not have singled out such a poem as they sometimes have a short shelf life, but Nick did, which does not surprise me in the slightest.

 

How to be Deposed

Apply two coats of waterproof mascara.
Floss until it steadies your hands. Sit down 
while you sheath your winter legs
in ultra-sheer pantyhose, Nude #2. Remember
the time before your ninth deposition, 
teetering in your hallway in a twisted
tree pose, you wrenched your back,
flailing like a netted trout. 
Do not bat your eyelashes at your lover,
I mean, lawyer, until you two are alone
in a taxi fleeing the scene.
Don’t shriek when plaintiff’s counsel
accuses you of sleeping with 
the defendant. Try to forget 
that co-counsel’s son carpools
with your daughter. Count the lines
in the wood grain of the
conference room table. Hum
in your head to the rat-a-tat 
of the stenographer’s flying fingers. 
Breathe. Wait for your lawyer’s objection. 
Later, when he asks: Was it true? 
don’t slap him. Don’t place a straight razor
near your bubble bath. Leave 
your pearl-handled revolver at home, 
tucked under your monogrammed hankies. 
Remember you don’t have a revolver… 
or hankies. Remember all the dimes 
you earned ironing your father’s hankies.
Try to forget his shadow in your doorway.
Try to forget his hand over your mouth.
Try to forget the sticky touch of your brother’s
beanbag chair on your bare thighs, 
your brother’s threat: I’ll tell everyone what you did.
Try to forget his needling question:
Does it feel good when I touch you here?

 

 

 

Elya Braden, a former corporate lawyer and entrepreneur, is now a writer and collage artist living in Los Angeles where she leads workshops for writers. Her work has appeared in Causeway Lit, Forge, Linden Avenue, poemmemoirstory, Serving House Journal, Willow Review and elsewhere. You can find her online at www.elyabraden.com.

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