An Extra Heart

Justin Jannise

I wish I were as fabulous as Titus 
removing a pair of sunglasses

in one swift and open-mouthed swoop
only to reveal another pair 

beneath the first. The drama, the preparation, 
that pixelated shoulder wiggle

he throws in for added effect—I love it
as much as I love the lip sync queen 

who tears her wig off during Whitney’s chorus
only to reveal, you guessed it, another wig.

Something about the way she understands
the gesture of taking our expectations

and handing them back to us, foiled, doubled.
Dinner is served, Madame. Please find 

 

another covered dish. Take the elevator to the second
elevator. Open the door to the door. 

I wish I’d had a plan for all the times 
a man caught me off guard. If I’d known 

he was suddenly going to say he needed space
I might’ve thought to bring

an extra heart. Here is what you’ve broken.
Keep it. One will do me. 

And wouldn’t I give anything to go back 
and tell my father that during those difficult years

I felt safer when he was around? And when he tries,
as he always did, to buy my love with money,

I’ll hand my love over to him, easily, as I never did.
And I’ll keep some for myself, as I never could.

Justin Jannise (@jus10jay) studied poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Houston. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Columbia Journal, Yale Review, North American Review, and Zócalo Public Square. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Gulf Coast.