Erin Cunnea


A real man doesn’t date sluts.


A real man doesn’t call women sluts.




There are certain words you cannot say

to my 77 year old grandmother

driving slowly in the left hand lane

how dare you.


Do you say them to the woman in a tank top

on a hot summer day?

They say that to your sister, you know.


Hot damn girl you’re fine.


You’re fine. Fine

I’ll walk a different way today

and the next time

maybe you won’t say anything or


I won’t listen. But I’ll hear

what the news reporters say

about Turner and Miss Stanford.


In Chicago he had it coming, but

she had it coming holds up in court.

What was she wearing?

Was there alcohol involved?

How long is his sentence?


Catcallers don’t have mug shots

taped to their ugly faces

of pig lard and

privilege enough to be a warning

for every girl speeding past with tunes in her ears to drown

out the seagulls desperate for scraps

only to pick at the meat and leave the shiny wrappers behind.


I am not a delicacy

to be fingered like an unlabeled box of chocolate

covered poison apples brought to you

by a bitter bitch of a hag.

Old Country Buffet

Thanksgiving, 2017



College, why not


“Fine! Great, actually.”


Password incorrect

“Good, learning a lot.”

Lecture begins




Desktop; no cursor yet


“Don’t you love it?”


I guess that’s rhetorical.

I’m an English major, remember?


“You should really write this down…”

Still loading.

“I’ve met some really great people.”

People I grab lunch with…no…with whom I get lunch.

“Just swell, we’re looking at all of our housing options.”

We is I and



“If we were being honest to gender and queer critical theory,

I’m not seeing anyone at the moment.”

Good lord now you’re getting The Look.


“Saussure’s analysis creates the foundation of interpellation…”

This page is not responding…

“which symbolizes…”

Headline: sexist serial killer gets throat slit by pissed off feminist.

“Just a little busy.”


“Too much on your plate?”

Just catering to you.

“No! I love being busy” it keeps me occupied,

Otherwise I might actually say what I think:


This Thanksgiving when

You bite off more than you can chew

And mention the Native Americans after

You’ve filled your plate with rich food,

Remember that the promise of community

Becomes mere survival when

One side holds the guns and the

Other meets its end…


“I think that’s enough for today. Class dismissed.”

kEystrokes apppear              haltingly .

“Are you happy?”

Only when it’s convenient.

“Let’s say a quick grace.”

Aren’t we already blessed?

Carnival Fish

You were sleeping but I was there

watching you breathe in your little glass bowl,

my sweet blonde angelfish

with tubes protruding from your nose

because you weren’t made like the rest in your school, No –

You come from the brightest lights of the carnival

that fizzle out after one spectacular weekend,

Its sweetness fleeting


I never understood why you

liked those balloons so much –

instantly attached to something

destined to be let go

at that inevitable moment –

why was I surprised? –

our eyes cast up, watching

it float away

the cotton candy clouds mocking

my cries to

Hold on, hold tight

while you just smiled and waved farewell

as if you knew we’d meet again


We only braved the Fun House once

because I lost you

in the mirrors, led away

by people we’d never met

who poked your plastic bag so

your reflection squirmed and contorted.

Magicians dressed in scrubs wielded saws

and claimed safety amidst the symphony

of saline pumps and clinical clowns,

still you followed them not a pennywiser


There’s a carnie off somewhere picking

the pocket of a mother watching helplessly

as her daughter stares starry-eyed at

the cutest kid in her grade school

She doesn’t yet know

that carnival fish die quickly

and her hope is tied to an unsteady hand

and three ping pong balls


My angelfish’s exhibit is standing-room-only

voyeurs stare under harsh halogens burning out

Her bright light, leaving a rusty bulb

lamented with every hushed whisper,

each extended embrace,

their glassy, sympathetic eyes

blinking back tears

as I desperately tap the glass

hoping she moves.

The Rebound Effect

I.            The High

You know – when you step into a
perfectly warm shower after being
berated by an endless string of cold
days and feel the heat your heart
couldn’t even fathom to this point

II.          The Comedown

Chiberia claimed another victim
Today, which is to say
multiply the feeling of running frozen
fingers under a scathing spigot
by heartbreak
And add the culmination of post-
holiday barren eves

III.         The Reality

Now you’re dreading this point It
hits you, the sweet release too much

the person who was


your one
body The
heat rises
To your
face And
it stings

Mere Mechanics 

How can I write about us
When we have not even begun,

When our closest intimacy has been
A perfectly misplaced brush of hands
Along the lake after a concert
It was windy and dark,
Hair whipping across our faces
Obscuring your eyes
Like the city blocks the stars
So we bumped into each other –
What an exhibition of grace

Or was it on the train,
When I thought we had reached a halt
Right before the platform
We lurched forward
One hand pressing the middle of my back
The other grabbing my shoulder
I let my free arm cross my chest
Pledging allegiance to your hand
Until we started moving again
So we held each other for a split second –
Written off as mere mechanics

Still, how long were those moments
Measured against the fantasy of time,
Sublimity of memory surpassing
The reality of regimented ticks
Counting down the seconds until
You answer “years”