Love Letter to Beth: Spiral Staircases Always Mean Trouble by John Dorroh


A museum art crawl, me too anxious
to climb up, especially with all of those
curves. Some man bellows with a dungeon
breath to bust a move. An owl with a sad neck
appears near my face. “Hold out your arm,”
instructs the man with a red face, veins popping
in his neck. A baby anaconda is wound around
my ankles; I cannot move; I cannot breathe;
I cannot recite the alphabet like this.

Rembrandt and Picasso hold hands like innocent
school girls. I want to inspect the canvases
with a hand lens but there isn’t time. There is
never any time. We must proceed up the spiral
staircase with snakes and birds and an unexplained
draft peeling cold scabs off of my bony knees.

There are overpriced tapas on the 4th level
and tiny wines from Spain for $7. I reach out
for a glass as we pass the service window. The owl
with the sad neck lands on my wrist, sticks out its
pink tongue, daring me to divert my attention.
Parched tongue, bleeding nubs; I am in serious
trouble. The Director is a Nazi with a four-foot whip.

I never reach the top floor, never secure that sense
of security that often comes with a job well done.
I pick Ritz cracker crumbs off of the floor with the
sticky coating of a used band-aid. There is a piece
of salami in the mouth of the owl, but he is so mean.
The only reward is stepping into a tangerine Speedo
and seeing how good I look in a funhouse mirror.
The Nazi cracks his whip and tells us that it is time
to head back down.

©2018 John Dorroh


Follow John

Whether John Dorroh taught high school science is still up for grabs. However, he did manage to show up every morning for a few decades with a thermos of coffee and at least two lesson plans. His work has appeared in Dime Show Review, Tuck, Piker Press, Red Dirt Press, Indigent Press, Red Fez, Event Horizon, and several others. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.


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