Matthew Guenette
was raised by friendly wolves in New Hampshire. His manuscript, Sudden Anthem, won the 2007 American Poetry Journal Book Prize, and will be published by Dream Horse Press in Winter/Spring 2008. His poems have been published widely. Recent work can be found in Diagram, Pindeldyboz, and the Southern Indiana Review. A Madisonian since 2005, he teaches at MATC and lives with his wife, Julie, and two out-of-control cats.

Secret Life of the Coin-Operated Laundromat Owner

The lone cafe in Kentuckiana
not dedicated to our Savior Jesus Christ
as decorating motif,
but I had issues with the representational art.
The paintings were ripped off
from Balthus—
knee-high bobby socks, women stroking
cats, pianos vibrating like chakras nearby—
minus the menacing
sexual allusion. What good is that?
Sometimes I was the orchid’s sparkplug.
Lots of my ideas
sprang from comic books.
I had x-ray vision wishes and flew around
in a jockstrap: red, white and blue.
One night I dreamt the strength
of Neptune’s hammer.
I hovered like a bee
just inches above the sun, the whole congregation
withholding medicine
and water. Therapists said
it was chemical, that I lived in an age
of excessive excess when really
small potatoes and a smile
were all I needed.
As heavenly bodies go,
the barista was completely Copernican.
Spaghetti strap halter, hip-hugger
jeans, funky flip-flops, toenails decorated
Demolition Red.
Sweetheart, I thought, I hate it when you leave,
but I love to watch you go
I heard Willie Nelson said that, and maybe
Hermes too.
I wanted to say something similar without
getting slapped or beer tossed in my face.
I foraged like a refugee
for durable solutions. I looked like a preacher
for something to blame: the 12th century,
NAFTA, pneumatically transported
germs in the crops.
The police scanners squawked
their tricky business like a bruised fist
for a heart. I thought
annihilate was too sentimental.
I thought if I held my ground like a claw-footed
tub, my iron sides would be filled
in one even flow.

Sestina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera has a blue
tongue. That scream you hear when you drop her in
boiling water is actually just steam
escaping her shell. She invented the word
agnostic in 1869 because she was tired
of being called an atheist

by Robert Browning and Stephané Mallarmé.
To wit: she is the only platinum singer who, at room
temperature, acts as a liquid. The odds of her being injured
by a crowbar are somewhere around 13%, yet in
coal mines that percentage rises to a whopping 75. The word
Aguilera actually means sleeps and dreams

with one eye open, while the word itself tastes like cream,
which tastes like beetles, which tastes
like Gitmo, which tastes like worms,
which tastes like death and faith.. You
cannot fold Christina Aguilera in half more than 7 times, yet in
Iceland it is against the law to keep her as a fire

arm. Ditto Siberia and in a Boeing 747. When her wires
kink and cannot be straightened by a team
of skeptics, this is called dog leg, which she sings beautifully of in
a number of her hit songs, including Dirty, I Got Trouble,
Slow Down Baby, What a Girl Wants, The Way You
Talk To Me
, as well as in her cover version of Word

To Your Mother
by Sir Vanillus Ice.
                             Aguilera is the longest single-syllable word
in English, and the only one that rotates on its side
and counterclockwise. As the youngest
Pope ever, (11 years old), she instituted one slot machine
per every eight citizens in Vegas.
Contrary to popular rumor, she keeps her heart in

her head like a shrimp or a pregnant goldfish. In
the Animal Crackers cookie zoo she appears
                             as 15 different animal shapes, including a herd
of red blood cells, lighting bolts, and the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was said she trapped the wind like a tired
man. The HOPE radio station in Sweden continually beams
her lyrics into space. A bylaw in Utah

bans her from unionizing or having sex with a man in
a moving ambulance. Or so it would seem on her
                             coat of arms, which reads: In the beginning was the word …
give me your tired, your poor, your huddled Aguileras yearning to be free