Teresa Leo: Junkie

I’m an off-ramp, a throughway, the last exit
on the Pennsylvania Turnpike,

where the cashier said I look like a cross
between Elaine from Seinfeld

and Alanis Morissette, or his high school prom date,
who he left to get high with a cheerleader,

bleachers, blackout, a second down
at the last home football game of the season.

It’s late fall and I’m at it again,
this infrared night scope heart,

a heat-seeking missile
when desire sets in over 8-Ball,

three games at the pool hall on Delaware Ave.
His Jagermeister to my Yuengling,

it’s the stop-and-go between strokes, radar
between bank shots, then the pull-back caveat

of I like you but. He wants to go.
How can I say it’s not me, really,

a sex addict, a two-pack-a-day freestyle junkie.
I like you too, but too late, stoplight,

and it’s the pitch-and-hurl, the drop-and-roll,
and he’s out of the car and gone.

In my apartment, it’s cow country,
the summer of ‘77, those four-corners

where I slung softees at the Tastee Freeze.
At 14, out back dumping mop water,

I was nothing, nothing but jailbait
in a polyester jumpsuit,

hand-crushed chocolate on a soft cone stick.
The boy who thought he was Superman,

who wanted coffee without kryptonite,
waited out back by the dumpster,

said come here and do this.
Under the hijack sky

and neon of 52 flavors of shake,
I unzipped: the reckless display

of skin and skin. I knew then
it would be like this, always,

something anonymous, something airborne,
an unfinished building in an urban nightscape,

where, years later, if I could get away with it,
I’d jackknife from the 13th floor

and go back to cornfields,
to a stoplight at a four-corners

cycling through its harsh, conventional logic—
go, then don’t go, then go.



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