Amanda Gaines

For Your Halftime Entertainment


A gun; an open mouth. Tension shot

in long cuts and close-ups. Somewhere


in middle America, 1999, phone wires are crying

to be used. In Sod, a child version of myself


puts blocks together, building what I believe

to be the perfect home. Kevin Spacey is just learning


to be famous. American Beauty turns heads

at the box office; teenage blonde, skirt only


this much too short. Twenty years later

and I’m starting to see myself in Angela Hayes.


Hysteria or sexual frustration:

pruning shears and a white button up, half undone.


She’s in my dreams, too, centerstage dancing,

voyeuristic hypnosis, hips dropping,


head tilted back. Precise. I’m not a virgin

anymore, but when Spacey looks in her eyes,


I feel fear and hunger all the same.

Angela spreads her arms like a tired child,


come closer smile on her face: Christ

or the last temptation? Satisfaction is a question.


Do you think I’m ordinary?

I want to be looked at. On the screen,


a white dove is dead; a metaphor for innocence,

or maybe, something more elusive.


I don’t need a mirror when I color my lips

to match Angela’s. Red like blood. Red


like a Pontiac Firebird.

Red like fuck me. Red like want.


We’re all entitled to desire.

A heart caves in: too much beauty.


Roses; generations of women.

Men hold the camera. When they watch me


I understand myself.  Without someone to see it,

do I ever really bloom? Angela’s ribs move


like lake water. Spacey’s fingers run down her

legs, a question. Look closer. I, like roses, need


attention. All hands have a purpose. Pretty things

are just harder to hold. An aimless paper bag floats


just out of reach, says, Dance with me,

the sky heavy with waiting


to open and snow.


Amanda Gaines is an MFA candidate in CNF in WVU’s creative writing program. She was a poetry editor for Mind Murals, the Eastern Region’s literary journal for Sigma Tau Delta, and is the nonfiction and co-poetry editor of Into the Void. She is also the new nonfiction editor for Cheat River Review. Her poetry, nonfiction, and fiction are published or awaiting publication in The Oyez Review, Straylight, Gravel, Typehouse, The Meadow, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Dewpoint, Up the Staircase, Rogue Agent, and Into the Void.

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