Jonathan Travelstead


Side streets narrow as gangways, he scours the red-light district
for someone like her. Someone who wears horn rimmed glasses

whenever he wants, and chooses his books for him. Tells him
Read aloud and goes down until he begins stuttering.

Desperate and freshly wounded, he scans the streets for a mistress
whose flint-eyed instruction he can mistake for lover's writ.

Red blares down cobblestone alleys like billboards
promising their salves for loneliness. His lips, dry. Numb

as he remembers them laboring, forming over, and fishmouthing
the Giving Tree's gifts he once savored reading aloud

as her tongue's felt tip traced his ilia in apogees of tension
and restriction, dipping to the sparse scree of hair at his cock's base.

Victoria! He again stutters over the apples, the little boy
who needs always just a little more...Before he is released

her mouth stops and he says he loves her again. Our hero
meets areolae before the eyes of women they belong to, their plush

elevated above the street so he must choose between neon and heaven,
a quick tug or the pull that makes him larger than his hurt.

Cornflower lace panties, the blonde waif that fingers him in.
I almost want him to stay this shade of precious forever

that he not cover a scar with a stain. I almost want that he go face first
against glass, tripping as he rises to meet the impossible body

of the prostitute who will not emulate a second-grade teacher's
lessons of stricture and withheld pleasure. Watch now

as she draws the purple window curtain. See her open the armoire
veneered in faux walnut. Unpack her tools. Boxes of tissues, gloves.

An assortment of pump bottles. Spermicide, lubrication,
in Hypoallergenic Blue, Latex White. See the dental dams

rubber-banded in a roll. Green. Watch as she washes, tells him
of her sisters, how she misses them. Ukraine's poverty.

When she says her name watch his heart stiffen also.

Author Portrait

Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia. He has published work in The Iowa Review and on among others. His first collection, How We Bury Our Dead, by Cobalt/Thumbnail Press, was released in March, 2015.

View the website of Jonathan Travelstead