“Nicest” by Michael Mark

Michael Mark


Mindy didn’t like me like me, I knew. 
Even when she put her hand on my thigh, 
slid it close to my dick, squeezed it in 
front of Brian—I forget his last name 
but not his face, some beard straggling 
his chin, sideburns already, diseased 
leather jacket, garbage truck voice, 
his 6 inches on me, his shoving me, 
and all his—then everyone’s—names 
for me. She liked him that way. I knew 
they’d been to second and were heading 
to third, his dirty fingers sliding under 
her jeans, her panties, her writhing, moaning, 
digging her nails into not me—she rubbed,
slung her arm around my shoulders when 
he called me that, like my father did, 
and my mother, though she’d say it worried, 
her voice like cried-in tissues, Are you …? 
You’re not? Mindy leaned her head to mine, 
her hair on my cheek, pushed them into me—
her woman breasts—voted best in 8th grade, 
including the teachers, according to me 
and my friends. We voted on everything 
from the cheap seats—smartest, dumbest, 
worst, most hated, nicest—pushed them 
into my side, chest, by my chin. They 
were strong and soft and it made Brian 
pull back from us like he’d been punched 
in his face. I knew she gave him a look: leave 
him alone or you aren’t touching kissing 
sucking on these, which made him want to 
kill me more, made him scream animal 
in the yard. I saw him push her against 
the fence. I did nothing—biggest pussy-
coward in the world award—watched her 
shove him back, flip her finger and pull 
her shirt up then down fast and laugh 
and they hugged and kissed long, hard 
and soft like in the movies and I thought 
he’s such a stupid loser who’ll wind up dead 
in the gutter after high school. I knew 
she liked him liked him. She couldn’t help it. 

from Rattle #82, Winter 2023


Michael Mark: “I get lost all the time. Poems are my compass. That’s not a metaphor, okay, but only half.” (web)

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