The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Mixtape Venus by Dana Kinsey

This selection, chosen by guest editor Tierney Bailey, is from Mixtape Venus by Dana Kinsey, released by Iris G. Press in 2022.

Meeting Death in a Dive Bar, in Three Acts

Smashing a cigarette to soot, Death peers
at Merlot & me. Unusually affable, eager
to make small talk bigger he slides to my side
of the booth. Unprepared for seduction I rise,

remind myself why I came, GPS begging
I recalculate. Winehouse wails
from the jukebox, stronger than me. We dance
a thick pathetic sway, desire smothered.

I pry myself from his wooden chest, confess
I wrote the note. He grins. Knows. My palm
betrays my wrist, opens its offering.
His ice steals my spine.

Many times before, I’d refused to wrap my flesh
onto his bones, fold over the paper-doll tabs
hand-to-hip, meld into the silence
dazzling eternity. I ran from his grasp

but he chased me hard through ballet studios
over stage bridges and dark churches
classrooms where students called me Miss
cradles where my babies stirred in sleep.

He tackled me near Avalon, pinioned me in waves
of guilt & regret that slammed me to my knees
lured me to kitchen counters covered in dough
I coaxed from autumn leaves. I rose.

Friends held me with a litany wound taut
about my chest, tattooed words where they belonged
only to me. They paraded banners through my veins,
shiny trumpets and high-hat marching bands. I woke

to my cheek on the checkered floor, drums and neon
matching the beat. Their words raised Braille
under my skin. I stood to snap my clutch,
smooth my dress. Met Death’s eyes behind the smoke.

Dana Kinsey is an actor and teacher published in Fledgling RagDrunk MonkeysONE ARTOn the Seawall, Sledgehammer Lit, West Trestle ReviewMacQueen’s Quinterly, Viewless Wings, The Champagne Room, Hive, SWWIM, Wild Roof Journal, Prometheus Dreaming, and Prose Online. Dana’s play, WaterRise, was produced at the Gene Frankel Theatre.  Her chapbook, Mixtape Venus, is published by I. Giraffe Press.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and is a dice-collecting gremlin. Currently, Tierney is Associate Poetry Editor with Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, Associate Editor with PodCastle, and a freelance graphic designer. She has earned a BA from the University of Indianapolis and a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College.


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