Poem: Based on a True Story


Based on a True Story

The stripper sat on the table at the laundromat,
dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt,
a copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence” in her hand.

“It’s never about the skin.” she says.
“It’s about the tease.
What to show, and what to hold back.”

“Their imagination is always stronger than flesh.” 

The buzzer on the dryer echoes across the room.
She pulls her clothes into a blue canvas bag,
and saunters out, proving her point.  

About this poem. 

Years ago, I lived behind three massage parlors with reputations as brothels in Roanoke, Va. From my apartment, which opened to the rear of my house, you could see men come and go late into the night.

I got to know a fair number of the women who lived there, generally running into them at the laundromat across Williamson Road where we would chat as our clothes ran through their cycles. This poem is built on some of those conversations.

One of the challenges of every writer is how much of your life, inner and outer life, to share. You don’t want to bore people or make them roll their eyes, but you want to share enough that they understand your authenticity and want to come back to read again.

From those things, this poem.



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