Monique Erickson

From “Old Friends”


I spent last night in Westchester, trying
to ease you through another heartbreak.
You collected me from the train station,
and we drank the fifth of Jack I mixed
with my flat Grand Central Coca-Cola.
We walked circles through the leaf-filled
drives of River Road. “I bet you haven’t
seen those in a while,” you said about
the stars and I nodded my head, took
a swallow from the Coke can, walked on.
I am not sure when exactly you turned.
Maybe it was the music in that white
boys’ bar, or when we got down
to the vodka, or when I danced
around your living room to Elvis,
drunk as shit, and you grabbed me
by the hipbones and I did not immediately
step away. We went to sleep chastely enough,
and it was not until this morning as I stumbled
through Grand Central that I remembered
half waking in the night to your mouth mid
lick. I can’t break down what you wanted
from me except maybe to remember
where a body you knew years ago
lets you slide around. Alone now
I retreat to my window seat
with my hangover and bottled water.
I accept my culpability: I wore that
short silk skirt, those cowboy boots,
I brought you the whiskey, I have
felt guilty for leaving you for years.
“People don’t change,” you said
as we were walking, speaking
of your girlfriend, and I agree
with you, since I am still
the girl who makes allowances
for everyone. This is not even
a good poem, what I can make
of alcohol and sex and guilt;
I am not inventing anything here:
I am not original in my shame,
nor are you, in your sorrow or your lust.


Since we last
shared a bed
I’ve been
of you.
You woke
strange in me,
your hand under my t-shirt, up
my back, your leg
over mine,
our tangle.
I remembered
you. The body
always remembers.

When I next see you, it will be dark.
I'll wear my t-shirt, the one
I sleep in and stand
just a few feet from you.
You will be nervous
to touch me, worried
I'm sending mixed
signals, worried
I will become
scared, worried
this won’t be
what I want.

I wonder if we will do it there in the hallway or here in the bed.

I don't
know what
will happen, after.
I don't think anything
will happen; the body
loves what it loves when it
loves. All these years I slide
little pieces of my life into
your hands and all my
secrets. This
is one of them.

When we touch the refraction
of light will extend beyond
the space / time
continuum and freeze
and stretch and last forever.
I will be soaked in your hands.


My body
has come to you for comfort
for most of my life but this tim
I am raw as a cut up animal around you
When you take my shirt off the heart shaped leaf
I found in the mud and carried
all day against my breastbone falls
to the floor. You put my hand
around your hard on. Once
you are inside me I can't read
your signals or you send none. Perched
above you I make love for both of us.
Aside from your fingertips light
around each hipbone, you
barely touch me. I think
a thousand sad thoughts
watching your eyelids
flicker and our love fade.

Monique Erickson is a poet, writer, and performance artist of Jewish and Cuban descent from New York City, grappling with daughterhood, motherhood, and womanhood. Monique has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily, Dazed, Reserved, Paper Magazine (RIP), and others. Monique first performed poetry on stage at 16, opening for Sandra Bernhard. Featured readings include Bowery Poetry Club, MoMA, Tibet House, Elizabeth Street Garden, NYPL (Jefferson Market), Rockwood Music Hall, KGB Bar, Pete’s Candy Store, the Annual NYC Poetry Festival, The Hole Gallery Frieze LA. Monique is the founder of LONESOME Press, an indie press with a salon performance series, community calendar, and a forthcoming interdisciplinary arts journal. She can be found at @myfairmomo and @thelonesomepress.