two poems

by Taylor Byas

Club Anthem | To You and Your Boys Watching Me Song says I put my hand upon your hip, says when I dip, you dip, we dip but I don’t know you like that. You detour to the bar through this ungodly gulch, bodies in cyclone- swirl, and your fingers groping blind. You slide behind me, your excuse me drowned by the DJ’s instructions—drop it low y’all, touch the flo’. I’m twerking, throwing my weight to the beat until your denimed crotch abrades my backside, then pressure. A squeeze, you snaking your hips against the rising hem of my bodycon dress. The fake surrender always gets me, open-palmed and wide-eyed. My bad, my bad. Boy, gone somewhere. At the bar, you order a double Jack and Coke and return to the pack, your boys a cluster of button- down shirts, Figaro chains, the chewed-down straws in your drinks stiletto-sharp, scratching your pink and thirsty tongues. And you watch me, plot a new route to my bounce, my shake, the pendulum-knock of your eyes a twin to the rhythm of my ass. Squeeze by me one more time. I dare you to.   Gap My first words were bodies sleep-burdened, stretching themselves to whistles, my “th” sounds pulsing my top lip through the breach. And nothing pornographic about the tongue’s peep show, the cleavage of the pink bosom. I avoided “thank you”s out of grace. I kept the faces of my classmates dry with my silence, kissed the boy in fourth grade close- mouthed although he tried to work my lips apart with his own. In school pictures, the gap a window to the uvula, a black door through which a wet hush escaped in comfort, among friends. Then the flagrant sputter met with recoil, then laughter, recoil again when I joined. In fifth grade a girl smiled with an identical gap, the melon-arc of her mouth falling like apples into my dreams. Why you don’t smile much? she said on the playground. You got a pretty smile. She made me her mirror, both our curved mouths eccentric pianos, and our gaps some sort of emdashes—pushing apart, pulling together at once. — Taylor Byas is a 24 year old Chicago native currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a second year PhD student and Yates scholar at the University of Cincinnati. Her work appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, Jellyfish Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and others.   Artwork by: Shadow Walker