Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

whitney mackman

In Which We Make Alliances Among Strangers in Strange and Temporary Places

"A good story should be the perfect woman's skirt: long enough to cover the subject, short enough to keep it interesting."
 ̶  My high school English teacher

We lounge on the riverbank.
I've known you 5 days.
I tell you I don't trust people
who don't eat cheese.
You pass me the joint,
confirm your love of cheese,
and say you feel the same
about mustard. I love mustard.

We meet at the drink station.
I've known you 10 days.
I tell you I don't understand people
who don't love milk.
Tell me about it, you say,
it's a deal-breaker. Like pickles –  
you have to like pickles.

We ditch fish night together.
I've known you 20 days.
You tell me you only trust people
who put filters in their joints.
I say I've done that for years.
You say that's how you knew
there's no goodbye
in an alliance like this.

We're back on the riverbank.
I've known you 25 days.
We share poems, make art.
I tell you I will miss you
and am grateful for the presence
of someone I don't know
I won't hear from again.

Book of Judith

I may be a widow, but I
can still seduce. Some men
will so easily believe any
lie for the taste of a woman.

Judea surrender? Yeah, right.
Distract: scent of hair, curve
of hip against picnic basket.
Come get what you deserve.

I may be a widow, but soon,
hairy Holo asked me
to his tent for a late night snack –  
as if I want to feed

some Assyrian asshole all
my wine and precious cheese
while Judea is surrounded,
and he gets real handsy.

Please. There was no spark between us:
he wanted my people dead.
He should have seen it coming –
my basket fit his head.

I admit it was dramatic:
his head on our ramparts.
But how else send that message?
If only there were sparks.

Whitney Mackman composes poems while roaming New Orleans and then forgets the best lines by the time she gets home. She teaches Creative Writing at Tulane University and coaches mountain biking and lacrosse. Whitney was one of the last few to interview Dr. Maya Angelou before she died. That interview, published on The Rumpus, and Whitney's published poetry and nonfiction can be found at