Les Kay


At the MLA Conference, between
a session on Lacanian materialism
and one on the poetics of time travel
she cannot convince herself to miss,
she navigates, on heels not yet broken
in, hallways honeycombed with
desperation's royal jelly until
she finds room 2013, smooths
her wool skirt with tremor hand
and spots, like a portent, the pebble-
sized coffee stain above her trembling
left knee when it is too late to
retreat to the restroom, too late
to forego her one inquisition,
so she brushes again, breathes,
breathes, and knocks, soft, the door,
clutching her attaché case close
as morning's first coffee until
a waddling man who wheezes
ever so slightly opens the door
and gestures her toward the bed
where four future colleagues
(she tells herself) attempt to
begin at the beginning, whispering,
almost, the small college lore—
a president seen only in glimpses,
email that vanishes if you click
SEND when the wrong addressee
is listed though no one knows
who that is—all is jargon,
mispronounced theorists names
swirling like silver pinwheels
in summer's most autumnal
sun until she lets slip a phrase
she wants back more than
any lover she's ever known,
and they, in unison, look
away toward each other
until the Department Head,
in her early 30s with ocelot-
quick eyes resumes the interrogation,
and she feels the hovering,
all eyes sliding across her
like a vegetable peeler on a raw carrot,
and she wonders (intertextually)
what her crime was and who
could tell her, having done
nothing wrong, where next
to go after the time traveling
session that followed
her year's only interview.

Les Kay holds a PhD from the University of Cincinnati's Creative Writing program. In 2013, his poetry appeared in a variety of literary journals including Whiskey Island, Sugar House Review, Stoneboat, Menacing Hedge, Third Wednesday, Santa Clara Review, Stirring: A Literary Collection, The White Review, and elsewhere.

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