All Those Hands We Never Met*

They told her she could tell her life story as a comic book. They vowed not to interfere. Page One, Frame One: Boyfriend kisses her when she doesn’t want to be kissed. Screen-printed on boyfriend’s shirt is a target. Page One, Frame Four: Boyfriend reacts to rejection, throws beer bottle through TV screen. Page Two, Frame Three: She invites him to bar, goes to bar, a neutral place to break up. Page Two, Frame Four: He hugs her too tightly.

In a few pages, they have taken over. We see her crying, swimming in a dark sea. Unable to bear living without him, she slips under the water. Even they can’t end it this way, so they offer a parallel reality, drop her off on a lonely road with only one suitcase. They lose interest in the final third, rely too much on incongruent frames: breaking glass, kabuki makeup, mystery man. They flash a life before your eyes, a life unfinished. They let her live so she may mourn all her lives let go by men.

*Title is a lyric from “Take the L” by The Motels (#52 on Billboard Hot 100, 1982).

Daniel M. Shapiro has attended a World Series Game 7, edited a lingerie catalog, and been called “gorgeous” by Burt Reynolds. His book of celebrity poems, How the Potato Chip Was Invented, was published by Sunnyoutside Press in 2013.

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