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Beautiful Freak Show

I don’t pretend to have been all pink
and unplucked, I knew nakedness,
knew the rattle of a leg in bed.
You rented a room from an old man
and his girlfriend, always cooking
bacon in the morning. The smell
of grease, the old man’s whiskers
on my shoulder, him saying, I’ve seen you,
and I could smell the meat of him,
peeking from a hole in the closet wall.
Beautiful freak show, he said.
You left the closet door open and he
stopped asking for rent. You want me
to strip and pose, unstrap the leg.
What should I say to this, becoming
someone you can show off, finally?


Jillian Weise’s second book of poetry, The Book of Goodbyes (Boa, 2013), received the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.