Because I keep a mermaid in the basement

I wash her delicate sequined pink bra in the bathroom sink


gingerly scrub around her clam shells

with a soft toothbrush fresh out of its wrapper


Because I keep a mermaid in the basement

I have not done the work left me by a hurricane


She is a blue flame phosphorescence,

illuminating the basement in ways electricity never could


Because I keep a mermaid in the basement

I tell my nosy neighbors I am still waiting for FEMA

when they ask about the standing water and the flickering lights


Because I have named the mermaid in my basement, Jayne Mansfield

I have to rethink my sexuality


Jayne flips me her dorsal fin

swims deep and reads drowned books

learning the language they teach her


I tell her I will buy a wet suit

and take her back to the midnight ocean


first line of poem is taken from the Emily Dickinson poem “By The Sea”


You can read Vicki Iorio’s work in various online and print publications such as Hellstrung and Crooked, Great Weather for Media Anthology, I Let Go Of The Stars In My Hand, The Brownstone Poets Anthology, The San Pedro Review, The Mom Egg, and Crack the Spine.

Poems from the Dirty Couch is Vicki’s first full-length collection.



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