Poem by Marybeth Rua-Larsen


 

Tell Me Your

Name

Raine: with an “e” at the end to differentiate it from your average, soggy precipitation but which people mispronounce as Renee, not believing that the “e” is silent. Not the daughter of Richard Pryor, who, if the pictures don’t lie, has his smile, his eyes and his sense of sly humor – yes, you can tell that from the photograph — but who has never affixed an “e.” Not the first half of a rainbow, which will still reach the full length of the sky but only include the colors red, orange and yellow. Vibrancy trumps quantity. Not the Beatles tribute band, with a full complement of mop heads, who are playing in Newark on June 10th.

Justin: usual spelling. Too old to be Justin Bieber, whose abrupt success led to public image problems and too much Mary Jane. Too young to be Justin Timberlake, who knew how to bring sexy back and manage a successful, unsullied solo career. Too thoughtful to be Justin Long, of Alvin and the Chipmunks fame, who had an on-again-off-again relationship with Drew Barrymore and ultimately could not commit. Too wild to be Justin Theroux, who is engaged to Jennifer Aniston, rumored to be eloping with her any minute and who must be the father of her allegedly-impending miracle baby.

Rank

Raine and Justin are dating. They’ve been at it for six months now. They spend a lot of time in each other’s apartments. The next logical step would be to move in together, to consolidate their assets and develop an equitable life-combining contract. Both are thinking this, but neither has told the other these thoughts. There are problems. They work on opposite ends of the city, so would they find a new apartment near Government Center or the Theater District? Who would commute through hellish traffic? How would they unite their cats into one household? Would they all get along? Would there be fighting, abscesses and exorbitant vet bills? Would they need Jackson Galaxy? Raine has concerns about Justin’s mouth, which doesn’t seem to open wide enough when they kiss. She’s mentioned this, jokingly, and he laughed along, but he never did anything about it. No stretching exercises or visit to an orthopedist to check his range of jaw motion. Justin is troubled by Raine’s menstrual cycle, which runs 22 days rather than the usual 28. She gets her period more often, which means they have sex less often than he requires (he can’t cope with blood). It seems they’re at a silent impasse, but then Raine takes a leadership role and hammers out the details.

Serial Number

A year later they are co-habitating, but the relationship isn’t working. Too little talk. Too little sex. Too many cats. Too much commuting. Unsurprisingly, neither of them follows Geneva Convention protocol and negotiations and remediation stall. In a flurry of whispered but intense arguments, hoping not to upset the cats, they mutually decide to separate, but then the combatants can’t agree on who keeps the almost-affordable mid-town apartment they’ve both grown to love, the one they lucked into when Raine’s Great-Aunt Phyllis fell, broke her hip and couldn’t (so they said) return. Since it’s Raine’s aunt, she should win this battle, having the closer familial connection. And if that isn’t enough, Great-Aunt Phyllis meets the six-degrees-of-separation requirement, having been seated next to Kevin Bacon on a flight from Boston to Philadelphia in the early 80s (after Diner and before Footloose). But Raine doesn’t win. Justin has all that Justin back-up, all those years of top-ten name status behind him and no silent “e” to confound both the civilian and military populations.

 

"Hippie Bus Apartments" © Richard Montgomery

“Hippie Bus Apartments” © Richard Montgomery

 

Marybeth Rua-Larsen lives on the south coast of Massachusetts and teaches at Bristol Community College. Her poems, essays, flash fiction and reviews have appeared in American Arts Quarterly, The Raintown Review, Cleaver, Measure, Literary Orphans and Unsplendid, among others. She won the 2011 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition in Poetry in Galway, Ireland, and her chapbook Nothing In-Between was published by Barefoot Muse Press.

Richard Montgomery: “My philosophical surrealistic drawings are known for their unique twist on life and our perspective of it. The “hidden in plain sight” details of my work are ruminants of the great masters like M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali. I have been drawing my entire life and have had no formal training other than just my own desire to create from the time I could hold a crayon or pencil. I enjoy many different types of art yet surrealism holds my passion the most.”

 

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