Poetry by Em Robidoux

My Parents Having Sex?

I imagine my parents were too shy
to get up to anything spectacular.
My mother never left her high school
science class bored to rub one out
in the stall of the girl’s room. Older,
their days were so full of dayness
& when it got dark they fumbled
together under their seasonal duvet.
My dad traded the electric bill for booze,
they never did it with the lights on.
They thought the commercialization
of the green m&m was the peak
of modern aphrodisiacs. Then my dad
claimed impotence from medication
& prolonged exposure to criticism.
His unriseable dick somehow pitched
in the center of every conversation


A person comes to the counter I am working
it like any man, they say they were wrecked

in the street by a siren, their head
tender & explosive.     They say I’m a girl
& become a girl.           She says she is always moving

around & making great transformations. Recently
she’d spent three good weeks as a frog only to belly up

to the surface with human genitalia.     She extends
her wrist where the skin has been sliced & stitched back.
She admits she forgot to get angular.    Now she has to keep coming

every day for a bottle of isopropyl alcohol.     I tell
her we’re running low.               She says get more, she says

when she rinses her mouth she feels the insects die again


My therapist tries to suggest
that I don’t want to be her
patient anymore.        It’s Monday
& she wants me to get a real life
& stop asking for her input
on my glamor shots. She knows
how important praise is to my recovery.
I bring paint samples from the hardware
store to her office. I show her every
variation of “Salmon Sunset” that’s available.
Am I drawn to this color palette
because of a traumatic incident from childhood?
Maybe involving a time when I didn’t feel
quite good enough? I can’t think of one.
Her office has nothing good on the walls
that I can hide my mind inside of. She even
drinks out of a plain glass teacup. I ask
if she’s noticed my shoes why she hasn’t
said anything about them. I walk artfully
around what she wants. I ask how she’s feeling,
she thinks I already know what she’s going to say
& I do. Our hour becomes an exchange of sighs. Am I
feeling rejected? Turned on? She does a perfect
imitation of a person unbothered. I tell her
I think she’d be really good at holding a grudge.
She taps the boring face of her watch & waits
for me to gather my swatches. I wait for her
to say she loves me before I go.

Em Robidoux is a queer poet living in Providence, Rhode Island, following the completion of their MFA in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Through their work they seek to explore plains of grief, humor, and bodily pleasure. Their poems have appeared in Palette Poetry, Press 53, as well as twice in Glass Poetry, with work forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Barren Magazine and Nat Brut.