UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY


KARL KOWESKI

Wet Wet explains the economy’s impact on exotic dancers

the dude introduces himself
as Wet Wet.
it’s been thirty minutes since
he walked through the door,
he’s yet to check out
Lita or Nadia,
scarcely glances at the porno
thrusting and gaping
on the tv screen.

he stands next to my chair
positioned near the
animatronic Crypt Keeper,
unplugged now that
Bennie’s left for the night.

“yeah,” he says
“I don’t care what
lies the media pundits spread,
you can always foretell
a recession by how attractive
the exotic dancers are.
women losing their
middle management jobs
with nowhere else to go
to make the sort of living
they’ve grown accustomed to
are forced to work the poles
and I’m here to tell you, friend,
we’re definitely in a recession.

I look at Lita
with her fried egg breasts,
fried bacon thighs
and frying pan face.

“Industrial Strip being the exception”
Wet Wet adds
“the poor stay poor regardless.
I’m talking Candy Mae’s,
The Body Shoppe, The Gentleman’s Club,
you know, classy places.”

I stare at the Crypt Keeper,
a left over prop from when
the Industrial Strip housed
a heavy metal club
full of high hair and leather
and the misguided belief
faster meant better.
put a blonde wig on
Crypt Keeper’s tattered dome,
open the burial shroud
at it’s sunken chest and
it wouldn’t look much different
from Lita or Nadia or Gretchen.

“places like that, though”
Wet Wet continues
“the girls won’t even
make eye contact with you
for anything less than a fiver.
a man could go broke
looking for a little attention,
and I’m here to tell you, friend,
there ain’t no STD
worse than poverty.”

I wonder if Bennie would consider
a boring lecture on economics
grounds for dispensing one of those
ass-beatings he’s always crowing about.

Lita steps out of the bathroom
followed by one of the few
Industrial Strip regulars.
Wet Wet withdraws
a crumpled twenty from his pocket.
“well it looks like its time
I do my part to help the economy”

as Wet Wet departs
I question how many hands
will touch the twenty
before its used to make
a car payment or
buy an HD television
or a pack of diapers.


the night I got kicked in the face by a pregnant stripper

began innocently enough
with a Guinness twelve pack
a handful of Loritabs
and a good steak dinner
four walled boredom
and a lack of witnesses
to my random acts
of grooviness
turned me out on the streets
in hell
the darts always hit
triple twenty when
you’re looking for a six to win

I sought refuge
in the town’s solitary roadhouse
where the lonely locals
line-danced to radio hip hop
in a shitkicker parade
of urban desperation
in hell
the waitresses
all wear wedding rings
regardless what you tip

I end the night
on the titty flop’s pervert row
where a pregnant stripper
repositioning herself
roundhouse kicks me
across the face
with her six inch platform shoe
in hell
the wallet is always empty
when you can buy a friend
for next to nothing

I return home
and its like I never left
the walls stand sentry
to a sink of dirty dishes
and the television mocks
the dying with
illusory images of living
in hell
where I lay
my head on brimstone and
curl up beneath sheets of fire


Karl Koweski is a displaced Chicagoan now living on top of a mountain in Alabama. He's been published throughout the small press and internet and in such places as Hustler Fantasies, Swank, Night Terrors and in anthologies like "It's All Good" from Manic D Press and "Trip the Light Fantastic". He has a collection of stories "Playthings" out through Future Tense Press and several poetry chapbooks, most recently "Can't Kill A Man Born To Hang" published by Bottle of Smoke Press.







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