Ariel Walks Into a Bar

Limps, really. Drops onto the first stool,

starts rubbing her bare blistered feet.

She nods upwards once to the bartender

the way drunks do to signal whatever’s cheap.

I gave up my voice you know–fought a bitch to get it back.

And now it hurts to stand. Every step is glass.

We let her talk. Someone buys a round

when she gets to the weeping hours

because we’ve all done it, given up songs

that crescendoed right up to misery notes,

given up meals, whole food groups,

better dick and all the good pussy.

We plucked our brows bare then inked them back,

poured hot wax on our crotches.

We’ve traded our jobs and bodies, our dollars and friends,

then fought monsters to get it all back.

We bore children, raised credit scores.

Still, we are here. No further.

Tonight like every night we drink

until the lights come on, then grimace as we stand.

Bartender says, So you used to be a mermaid?

Guess what. We all were.


Jessica L. Walsh is the author of two poetry collections, The List of Last Tries and How to Break My Neck, as well as two chapbooks. Her work has appeared in RHINO, Tinderbox, Sundog Lit, Whale Road Review, and more. Find more at

Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

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