For as long as she'd filled out her census forms,
Shirley had been a one-person household,
and she wasn't a hugger, concluding that,
unless a kid is clutching you to
prevent plummeting to a painful death,
a hug is superfluous.
Yet she posted epistolary embraces to
a penfriend named Ahmet,
the fiftyish Turkish typing teacher who wrote in
dreamy undulating longhand
and sent selfies of a mustachioed face with smiling eyes
and a solemn mouth.
His warmhearted words, eagerly gulped down-
like cloudy lemonade with clinking shards of ice in a heat wave,
sustained her in stoic solitude as her humdrum haze
of postmenopausal puttering progressed
from tolerable to acceptable.
Their correspondence continued until year six, when
Ahmet vouchsafed that he'd be visiting her,
snaking a romantic route from Izmir to Yonkers
by ship and by train.
On April 12th she put on her chartreuse shift dress
and Chanel No. 5
and waited at the railway station
for a passenger who never stepped onto the platform.
Shirley shuffled back every morning
for nine Ahmetless days
before she shrugged her sloping shoulders
at the ninth shrinking caboose
and silently slaughtered hope.
“The Hotel Mattress”
The mattress is long in the tooth,
if mattresses could masticate,
having dazzled in its debut in the city's haughtiest hotel,
bolstering the sweat-blotched backs of visiting VIPs
and their lovers.
But mattresses, like Hollywood honeys,
have a best-before date,
so as Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were found featured
in psychobiddy melodramas in the sixties,
the mattress was next cast in a mid-range motel,
braving ravioli smudges, incontinent seniors, sick anklebiters,
and cursing couples cross at the requirement to rise
at three fucking a.m. for cheap Continental flights.
The mattress continued its descent
down to a roadside flophouse,
suddenly smeared with hookers' rouge and vodka-scented vomit
and grossly groped during demoralizing drug busts.
The mattress is beyond knackered,
yet pleased with its red-letter rips, stains and sags
as a valiant vet is proud of the Victoria Cross or Légion d'Honneur.
Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor, dividing time between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA and St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Adrian's work has appeared in Squawk Back, The Bohemyth, Queen Mob's Tea House, Pangolin Review, The Honest Ulsterman, and others.