by Lylanne Musselman
I was a senior at Delta
High School, a promising artist
whose sanctuary was room 14
where Benny and the Jets, Rock On,
and The Loco-Motion ruled
the air waves as I pulled colorful prints,
the relief I needed from
living life on the edge —
pressed into sexual encounters
with that small town cop at fifteen.
The one who told me I was
no better than anyone else;
he swore You’re so Vain
was about me. Who was I,
anyway, to think I was going
to breakout of this rural routine?
Killing me softly with his song…
He knocked me down a few notches
when he went to mom and told
her I was sleeping with a local
grease monkey and doing drugs —
because I tried to get away from him.
I entertained suicide to escape.
Whenever I hear Midnight at the oasis…
put your camel to bed… I embrace
that time: art scholarships, easy laughter,
lofty dreams of living in Chicago;
but I can’t shake that badge of lies,
the raging guilt, the lack of trust
impressed upon me before
I could even reach my walk
with pomp and circumstance.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My senior picture, age 17 (1974).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was 17 when I graduated high school since my birthday is in September. I loved creating art and that’s what I lived for. At 17, I thought for sure that I would be taking the art world by storm in the future. I was extremely fond of printmaking, and that’s why I use a lot of printmaking terminology in this poem. I also love music, so the songs referred to in this poem also hold a special place in my heart, and the older man was a catalyst for a life of screwed-up relationships (but I did get away from him by going to college). I can say that I grew up faster than I should have; however, at 60, I’m happy, and I have been successful with my visual art, and with poetry — which has been a pleasant surprise!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lylanne Musselman is an award winning poet, playwright, and artist. Her work has appeared in Pank, Flying Island, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Poetry Breakfast, The New Verse News, Ekphrastic Review, and Rat’s Ass Review, among others, and many anthologies, most recently the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, 2016). In addition, Musselman has twice been a Pushcart Nominee. She is the author of three chapbooks, with a fourth forthcoming, Weathering Under the Cat, from Finishing Line Press. She also co-authored Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013). Visit her a lylanne.com.