Love Em and Leave Em Fast


today while driving I was listening
     to “Little Red Corvette” when a red
   Corvette pulled out
in front of me & the traffic slowed
     so that the tail lights lit up my face
        so close were we
and I became so embarrassed I turned
        down my stereo so the Corvette’s
    driver couldn’t hear
she had a pocketful of horses / Trojans
        and some of them used afraid as I was
    he would think I was
trolling him and who wants to
     piss off anyone in a Corvette
        especially in a ten-
year-old Civic with a scuff down
     the side made by my grandmother’s
   bumper in the narrow
drive I won’t even wear a t-shirt
     into the store where I bought it
   even if it was years
ago because I don’t want them
     to think I’m a shoplifter I once
   took a rubber
spider from the Food Lion its black legs
     gelatinous its fangs painted red
        it was before
I could shelve my memories
        with how old I was I must’ve been
  three four for
nights I laid awake listening
        for sirens sure my cop father
  would have turned
me in when I was a girl
        I was a boy most days I made
    a beard from cotton
balls hot-glued to felt and slung
     around my ears by elastic string I
   played the father
in all games of house the doctor
     who cut the baby out of her
   stomach and I bang-banged
as the Sherriff (my mother misspelled
     it on the badge) I only became embarrassed
   when someone said
you can’t do that and I thought yes
        maybe I couldn’t only then so I became
   quiet as an unfired
weapon made with a finger
     and thumb the best thing my love
   ever said to me was in
a drive-thru Em you look so beautiful
     in red tail light I thought for an instant
        about driving up beside
that Corvette maxing out the volume
     on my ironies my pitch all my off-key
fucks I shouldn’t give



Emilia Phillips is the author of two poetry collections from the University of Akron Press, Signaletics (2013) and Groundspeed (2016), and three chapbooks. Her poems and lyric essays appear widely in literary publications including Agni, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s an assistant professor in the MFA Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.