/j wheelock

On the Sofa Rescued from the Street when a Man Beat his Wife, Threw the Furniture off a 5th Floor Balcony, and Set their Apartment on Fire

So many ways that could have gone:
Throw the woman, beat the couch, torch himself.
Set the woman on fire, beat the walls, jump.

The way it went my neighbor got the sofa for a steal
at Goodwill. Slightly swaybacked from the fall,
a ripped arm, a missing leg she replaced with a book,

it survives. She calls it her old sixth sense, the seer,
knowing it’s been close to the fire—seen the wife press
the scissors against the husband’s penis, seen him drag

her by her hair to the kitchen, seen them fuck in every room–
only to end up on Sixth Avenue looking like a busted lip
but better off than the lamps and tables, pillows burping foam.

Sometimes passion is a padded room. The way in
is smooth as the nap of a thigh; to get out
you’ve got to kick an exit, break a lock, strike a match.


Jennifer Wheelock is a poet and painter living in Los Angeles. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many print and digital journals and anthologies, including Cortland Review, Los Angeles Review, Post Road, Valparaiso Review, Diagram, River Styx, Atlanta Review, and others. She works at UCLA.