Jen Rouse

You are the One I Want to Take Home




I think you held the door for me

and pulled me drunk

down the street, stumbling

in the sun.  I think I walked

into every ray of you, every delicate

spike of your newly shorn head.  Sweet

sweet the desire to run my

fingers everywhere.  Across the map of

your jaw.  The edge of my bottom

lip so eager to cup the salt of your skin

and swirl this storm of us. To tilt

your head back against the park bench

until you no longer care who sees us.


Instead, you fold into me like petals

at rest, and I am not afraid.

But this is just an exercise

in how close my hands

are allowed to rest against you.

But this is just an exercise

for all you think I have forgotten.


I have not forgotten.





Maybe there was a blanket in soft scotch plaid,

and as I pulled you down by the lake

your sigh and the waves against the shore

split us open to each other.  Maybe my

cheek felt warm in the chill against your thigh.

Maybe you moved in invitation and said

my name so softly it wasn’t my name but

a prayer.  The hawks may have been our

only audience.  Bending in the wind to

the invitation of your scent.  You don’t

have to tell me that you want me here.

You shudder in uncertainty and put

your hand on my head.  It will be slow,

it will be filled with questions.  The first

time, and the privilege to find what

you have to give.  Your fingers nestle

in my hair.  My breath into your body.

Tell me where.  Tell me where.  Tell me where.





First there was a red wig and

those thigh-high boots in leather

as supple as the last lingering

moment inside. . .but that

was time suspended, a summer

stretched out like honey—and

cunt just doesn’t come

like that anymore.  The new girl

only likes vanilla.  A finger or two,

no kissing after.  She’s kind

but cannot be held.  She’s brilliant

but treats you like a job

she’s done well.  You still blow

her a kiss as she swings her

soccer-mom ass out the door.

But you’re thinking about the boots

and the wig.  And the fullness

of a fist, the way pelvis bucks

pelvis, each arch and moan

the desire to fuse memory

like this mad unbridled

fucking into bone.





When I dream about you,

you are always in silk–

sometimes more black swan,

with a sneer, and succulent scarlet

lips that smear a painting of

our fucking like my skin

is canvas beneath you and

you would uncover the mystery

in abstract brush strokes.


When you visit in white,

the pills bring a delicate Madonna,

a savior.  Your hair like onyx ribbons

cradling your breasts, your gentle

breath like a balm against

my neck.  And when my fingers

trace the fine bones of your

clavicles, I watch you flutter,

I watch your lips move, and your

hips prepare for flight.  You say,

take me anywhere.  I say, you

are the one I want to take home.





An entire galaxy on a floating island * a worn down o’keefe iris * a moth that would take on Godzilla any day * your wishbone split and delicious * and that mighty head * hiss like the snake you are * take back and claim the cunt you’ve always known * I am not kidding * when I tell you the middle of your life will medusa-turn you * as it should * wear all that glisten and shine on the outside * with that kind of swagger only you know *  with the voice you call out with * from those deep and anchored thighs * call them out * call them to you * wear your crown and defrock those silly silly cocks * we were born to hold the universe * this small key * 8 thousand doors below * blow your own beautiful mind * no one else contains your multitudes


Jen Rouse is the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA. Her poems have appeared in Hot Tin RoofPoetryPoet LoreMadHatLitPretty OwlThe Tishman ReviewInflectionist ReviewMidwestern GothicSinister Wisdom, and elsewhere. She has work forthcoming from Lavender Review, and is the winner of the Gulf Stream Summer Poetry Contest. Rouse was named a finalist by Ellen Bass in the Charlotte Mew Poetry Chapbook contest. Her chapbook, Acid and Tender, came out December 2016 from Headmistress Press.

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