Yellow Mama Archives

Cynthia Ruth Lewis
Adhikari, Sudeep
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Resurrection at Motel 6


Cynthia Ruth Lewis



She didn't fall far; just enough to be noticed


Rejected by her own dad, cast out into the world of man

seeking acceptance, affection,

in the only way she could understand


Physical contact, open arms—

she only wanted promises of safety and security;

adoration which she clutched tight like a prayer to her chest,

with their hand hot on her knee as they drove,

the neon sign flashing up ahead,

just beyond the curve in the bend

under the knowing eye of the yellow moon,

dreams fading quickly beneath its harsh glare

as they enter one of the tiny rooms that always reek

of defilement, smoke, and cheap perfume


It is there where she is always taken;

there where she is dissected, disemboweled

and buried again and again by men with eager, probing tools,

slobbering tongues and feverish hands

searching, always searching for their own paradise,

their idea of temporary heaven

And when it is over

when it is done,

even with their dead, spent weight full upon her

and their seed already cold on her thigh,

the flutter of her heart beating, wings rustling louder

than the fluorescent VACANCY hum—

her dimming halo, no longer a light to guide by,

but still brighter than the flashing sign outside the window

remains, pulsing, as a fingered vein within the hallowed darkness



Lady Luck



Cynthia Ruth Lewis



It had been that kind of morning;

the pelvic cramping and blood spotting warning me

of a possible loss


I wanted to turn down our big trip to Reno—

we'd planned months in advance,

mapping our course, saving our money,

hoping to hit it big to dig us out of the hole we were in,

never expecting a third person to come along for the ride


I didn't think I should go; thought I should stay off my feet,

knowing there might still be a chance to redeem,

however slim, but I give in, sitting motionless in the car;

quiet, watching life slip by through the window,

moments gone in the blink of an eye

and you, even unaware of the situation, chatter endlessly on,

taking my silence as mere trepidation

of losing


The casino looms like an all-knowing demon.

I follow you, unseeing, through the overly-bright building,

hearing coins dropping, bells ringing,

everybody happy and carefree,

and me—knowing there would be no sense in fighting

a battle already halfway lost—walking freely amongst

the happy people, a murderer of hope, a bucket of coins

clutched tight in my sweating grasp, abusing each precious moment,

eventually pushing the coin through the slot, pulling the lever,

taking my chances, knowing the ball had already dropped,

now rolling completely beyond reach, no stopping at all,

no going




Fuck Your Nicotine Patch


by Cynthia Ruth Lewis



He's a beast trying to quit smoking—

snapping at me for no reason

scowling his way through the course of the day . . .

I know it must be a hell of a challenge,

but at least one doesn't lose any self-respect that way

It's not easy for me, either,

trying to shake my red-light reputation

that I've perfected through the years,

letting men use me because I've been searching

for something I could never hope to find


a vice like that stays with you forever;

it's not like washing the smoke out of your clothes

or swilling mouthwash to remove the taste of ashes—

it's more like a scab on your psyche

or a blemish on your soul,

a stigma of the lost and confused.

It's not simply a matter of walking away

and saying "I quit"—

the mind may be firm

but the flesh is always yielding;

thousands of men's fingertips having been imprinted

in your skin through the years,

branding you for life . . .

and they never forget what once was theirs


cigarettes don't chase you down

and throw rocks at your bedroom window

hoping for a quick one

before they go home to their wives and their lives

and pretend you don't exist


you try to wash your hands of it all,

but the scent never comes off

and you can dress down all you want

but the smell is ingrained in men's brains—

they will still only see the red lips

and the short skirt over bare legs,

so excuse me if I haven't been myself lately;

pardon me if I'm a little irritable at times


he may be on his way to complete well-being,

but I'm still swimming upstream for mine



Lemons, Losers and Love


by Cynthia Ruth Lewis



I always wanted it

I craved it

I came close a few times,

but it was always a shadow, a lie,

elusive as a dream


I'd read about love

seen it in movies,

even used the word generally

when referring to particular favorite items,

but when it came to men

I was always a little too hungry,

a bit too overly-sensitive

and entirely wide open


I'm not cold-hearted

I have feelings

but they were always abused by the wrong men,

guys who would pull the wool over my eyes;

charm me with their endless bullshit and lies

draw raging emotions out of me

like sap from a fucking tree,

then pulled my heart out and ate it for dinner—

that was love?


Love was supposed to be something sacred,

shared between two people . . .

how could I have known I was picking the wrong type

to attempt it with?

The lying, deranged creeps

who collected hearts like baseball cards

and tossed the word “love” around

as casually as a keychain on their finger


I always used it sparingly, with great care,

the word itself awkward in my mouth,

like trying to talk around a tongue full of marbles

that never quite reached their target,

just rolled right on past


one time I recited the word when I was alone,

repeating it over and over

faster and faster

to see if it lost any meaning through verbal repetition

the way words sometimes do,

but it merely began to sound

like a car engine trying to turn over

but never quite making it,

just like the backseats of those beat-up,

rusted-out pieces of junk where men always proclaimed

their undying devotion for me,

just before they came




Cynthia Ruth Lewis currently lives in California. Her work has appeared in Gutter Eloquence, Underground Voices, The Camel Saloon, Red Fez, Unlikely 2.0, and others.





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