Yield Signs Don’t Exist (Crimmins Poetry Prize Runner-up)

Rob ran a solid red, first car in pilgrimage
to Rocky Horror Picture show. He flicked a gaze back.
I didn’t lose the girls? Oh, man. I think I’m in love.

You remind me of that Zeppelin line, A. said.
When you look in the mirror, baby,
baby, baby, do you like it?

All the chicks here are after Mike, Rob said.
He was wearing my feather boa.
Patted my shoulder, focus on the high heel parade.
Don’t worry, don’t worry.

I seen you here before, J. said. Eyes slant under sun.
I like those jeans you got on.
I haven’t seen you on for awhile, the train conductor said.
Punched bullet holes in my ticket.
You look good, how you been?

M. said a lot but I remember nothing
because I was looking at his arms
on the wheel, bone and muscle shift and pop
on sharp turns. He drove me
to the high school at night.
This was my space, he said.
The guy across had a Mustang too,
but his didn’t stall.

Don’t tell them it’s your first show, he said.
Hand on my back now. (I took a too-deep breath.
My garter belt split.)
They’ll lipstick your forehead
and make you grind with a blow-up doll.

The poem you wrote made me cry, he said,
so I was no longer afraid of his trunk full
of rope, tarps, handsaws.
I’m still building, he said.
I’ll keep cutting until I get it right.

You call me if it don’t work out, J. said.
We rolled through a stop sign.
(You rolled through that stop sign, the cop said.
Didn’t you see it?)
Sorry I don’t drive so careful, he said.
Long hair spilled out a cracked window
and now he didn’t look at me.

You know how men drive? Rob said once
Red lights are stop signs,
stop signs are yield signs,
and yield signs don’t exist.

Kathryn Ionata is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer whose work has appeared in The Toast, Schuylkill Valley Journal, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Aries, Hawai’i Review, Wisconsin Review, and The Best of Philadelphia Stories: 10th Anniversary Edition. She is a two-time runner-up for the Bucks County Poet Laureate Competition. She teaches writing at Temple University and The College of New Jersey.