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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—May 28

May 30, 2019

Mary Ma
How To Stay In New Jersey


It’s a small state but there’s room.             
Make room. Bring a map to your desk
and get to work:

Run a red marker over
all the parking lots you purged in. 
Black top tucked behind  
restaurants and schools. Sometimes 
you’d stay in the driver’s seat
until you found a trash can. 
Cross out the trash cans and dumpsters 
on the main stretch of town.

Tear away the town where you were raped
and the town where your rapist lives.
Be careful with the latter or you may tear 
your own town, too.

Be gentle, the state looks smaller.

Take a pencil and circle the spaces you can
survive.

Circle every place you tried to sleep
when you couldn’t go home. Mall parking lots,
pharmacy parking lots, coffee shops, bleachers.

Erase that last one. Cross the bleachers out instead. 
They remind you of your stalker. 
Note the driveway where he jumped inside 
your moving car.

Don’t forget the Petco where your ex’s twin 
brother works. All you know is one of them
called you a whore. One of them
didn’t want you to work with other men, 
but you can’t tell them apart so assume 
both are dangerous. Go ahead and cross out Route 17.

Move your home away 
from the tear on the page 
and try again.

There are new malls here. New restaurants. New streets.
You don’t really need to use parking lots
any more.

Now look at all the state that’s left: 

You’ll fit
somewhere. 
There’s room.

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