Cool Girl By Jill Mceldowney

Cool Girl

A man puts his hands on me and I am his.
It is the habit of the living

to make the dead,

to believe the dead better
than what they were

to believe
them when they say: “Can’t stop the plan God has coming—”

He’s better off dead

I can’t stop his calling to tell me
about the breaks in his memory

the spaces he
can’t remember.

I can’t stop
another drug dealer who thinks he’s magic from calling me

“Cool girl, cool girl, —

you’re such a cool girl”

before he fucks me up against a refrigerator door.

What he means is that my body is a cloud
for him to hold in his mouth,
to learn on foil

a planet of regret, the oldest love story imagined.

Ask me what I remember
of the last five years and that will be the first thing I can’t bring myself to.
But you were never who I thought you were anyway.

And you get to live
more or less the same
while I’m told later that trauma to the skull can trigger depression, auditory hallucinations,

while I’ve spent an entire year thinking

can’t be touched
please don’t touch me,

jumping when anyone moves toward me too fast,
brushes against me.

A man puts his hands on me
and I think
of the ways I could hurt him

instead I let him touch me.

How to be and how not to be
that not every encounter with another person needs to end with blood.


I meant it when I said:

Get out of my head.

When I said
dead to me
I meant literally.

By Jill Mceldowney


Jill Mceldowney is the author of the chapbook Airs Above Ground (Finishing Line Press) as well as Kisses Over Babylon (dancing girl press). She is an editor and cofounder of Madhouse Press. She is also a recent National Poetry Series Finalist. Her previously published work can be found in journals such as Muzzle, Fugue, Vinyl, the Sonora Review, Prairie Schooner, and other notable publications.

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