Butcher, Butler, Tongueless, Punch

Caves at Lescaux, Perigord village

I take my foreshadowing

in the forest. Chefs spill

sweat and soup the sills,

the angry bakers simp

down my streets. They like

to touch their loaves. Everyone

engaged, well-off, cups-a-coupe,

cloved. For flowers, for hair,

bride the cake, small sugar

villa loved around men, every

one touching my small town:

single mistress and school, cloying

toying girl. Gulp. White

paper cloaks and cake, small

calf and singing fool—Why

don’t they wait? I eat

my croquembouche w/

draught: sticky cave of tongue.

Long-armed women allowed

all white, Twiggy heels and

Camden Carnaby Capri knees.

Beef and sideburns from Capri.

Unbolting cork, dance flooding

capricious and wine capsizing

our fingers over fingers into

fingering onto floor, unringed

fingers spun around

my man. My dapper

cut of meat. In a suit

he doesn’t pass for butcher,

he who walked the schoolmiss

through the grove. Her eyes,

my hair, the tits. Blue honey,

smarts, a mouth. He remarked

on her until everything grayed

up. She arranged him a mountain

of hard-chinned boys, busied

with notes and scabs of

Balzac. I take your shadow in

the forest, whether that seems

like anything or not.


JoAnna Novak is the Pushcart-Prize-nominated author of two chapbooks: Laps (Another New Calligraphy, 2014), a limited-edition art book, and Something Real (dancing girl press, 2011), a prose sequence. A finalist for Sarabande's 2014 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, her writing has recently appeared in Joyland, DIAGRAM, Pank, Guernica, and Hobart. With Thomas Cook and Tyler Dorholt, she edits and publishes Tammy. She lives in Massachusetts, where she is working on a memoir.