Spring 2011, Volume 10

Poetry by James Valvis

You Think I'm Making This Up

Trust me, I’m not nearly that good.
Like that time my girlfriend hid
outside with her new boyfriend.
And her roommate tried to ditch me,
but she finally threw up her hands
and said, “Go on, search the place!
Do you really think I give a shit?”
I liked her better than my girlfriend.
The new guy—what was his name?
I’m not sure anymore. She met them all
on the internet and I came to know them
by their residencies. There was New Hampshire
and South Florida—another one or two I forget.
Anyway, this new guy was hiding
like a chump, and maybe he thought
I’d kill him—and maybe she did too.
“He’s a nutcase,” she told everybody.
Well, I didn’t kill him.
I shook his hand politely.
Shows even people without jobs
can be civilized—or at least civil—
though I stole a pack of cigarettes
from her carton on the way out.
I don’t make up any of this crap.
Like that time her husband came over
because he thought I was alone with her.
But I wasn’t. She was out somewhere.
And the guy (a teacher) started yelling.
So I said, “I’m not one of your fucking students.”
And he said, “Did you say “Fuck my students’?”
And I said, “Yeah, ‘Fuck your students.’”
He got in his car and I went back inside.
You can’t make up something like that.
Then there was the time she came at me
with a pair of scissors. That happened twice.
My first girlfriend did the same thing to me.
(You know, sometimes I think she wanted to live
in my stories and when I wrote about
my first girlfriend attacking me with scissors,
she couldn’t be upstaged and had to do it too.)
We were in a friend’s bathroom (romantic moonlight)
and she found a pair of scissors, not even real ones,
a pair of those mustache clippers—
you know the kind. And she said,
“I’m related to Helen of _____.”
Helen of somewhere. I can’t remember.
Maybe Helen of Troy. Or Helen of England.
Or maybe Helen of Downtown Jacksonville.
Anyway, one of those big-time Helens
everybody’s always fawning over.
And I said, “So what? Who cares?
Are you going to cut me, or what?”
That’s how it was in those days.



BIO: James Valvis lives in Issaquah, Washington. Publishing for over two decades, his work has recently appeared in 5 AM, Confrontation, Nimrod, Rattle, Southern Indiana Review, and is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Atlanta Review, Crab Creek Review, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Los Angeles Review, Midwest Quarterly, New York Quarterly, Pank, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. A book-length collection of his poems is due from Aortic Books.