Two Poems

Elya Braden

Winning Kiss


I won a fraternity kissing contest

in college. I still have the photo—

chubby dumpling me, squeezed

into too-tight jeans, perched

on a strange boy’s lap. He

is blindfolded and I am holding

his face, leaning in. I never

thought I’d win. Too worried

about the heft of me on those boys’

laps to imagine they’d respond

to the ripeness of my lips,

the stealthy inquiries of my tongue,

my breath reduced to tiny sighs.


Why did my sorority sisters offer me up?

Did my six-month relationship

with a grad student who resembled

Warren Beatty credential me as

experienced? Or was it,

in the wake of our break-up,

now two months past, the wreckage

of clear-cut forest behind my eyes,

or the daily widening of my abundant hips

that bespoke a hunger so impersonal

that any lips would do?



Weather Report

                          from Office at Night

                          by Edward Hopper


The lonely streetlight reaches

through the half-open window, into

the corner office, strokes the white wall,

the metal file cabinet, the fine, round ass

of the secretary snugged in blue. Its

glow casts the words scrawled across

the letter in high relief. They shout

at the man who clutches the letter

in both hands.      She’s onto us,

he says to his new love,

his “true love,” his voice strangled

as the words grip his throat.

Oh baby, the woman pleads, let’s get out

of town, leave this crummy office behind

and start fresh. Maybe California?

I got a sister in LA.


The man doesn’t answer, doesn’t move,

silent as the typewriter on her desk

a yard away from his, the distance

like an ocean for so long, when all he could do

was stare into the endless blue of want,

adrift on the ship of wife and family

until one day she threw him a line:

Wanna go for a drink? He’d been

drinking her in ever since, each swallow

his death and his salvation.


The woman has forgotten what she wanted

in the files. She clings to the cabinet

to keep from falling, her dark eyes

smudged with tears. His silence is louder

than the first clap of thunder.

Grab the umbrella, she thinks,

here comes rain.

 About the Writer

Elya Braden took a long detour from her creative endeavors to pursue an eighteen-year career as a corporate lawyer and entrepreneur. Elya is now a writer, performer and collage artist living in Los Angeles where she leads workshops for other writers. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cultural Weekly, Deep Water Literary Journal, Dogwood, Forge, poemmemoirstory, Willow Review and other journals.