In the first house I remember, my father forced me to eat
fried bologna smothered in tomato sauce until I threw up.
Melamine plate—white rimmed
with blue roses, bluer leaves—
in my mouth.
His yelling, the lift
of his belt.
Ruffled yellow curtains, the rotary wall-mounted phone —wallpaper, maybe?
But I loved the kink of the phone cord, twirled
the rubbery coil around my fingers like princess curls. We dialed four numbers
to reach anyone else in town & sometimes we caught strangers’ conversations
when we held the receiver to our ears.
Party line, they called it.
It’s called respect, he said.
Mom from the sink: just eat it already you know
he’s going to win.
Lisa Allen is a cross-genre writer living and working in suburban Kansas City, Kansas. Her work has appeared most recently in South85 Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Normal School, and River and South Review. as well as three anthologies. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program, where she was a Michael Steinberg Fellow. She was a Finalist for the Best of the Net Anthology, 2023, and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a co-founder & director, with Rebecca Connors, of the virtual creative space The Notebooks Collective, as well as a founding co-editor of the anthology series Maximum Tilt.