Apt. for Rent: Poughkeepsie, NY

by Anya Groner

A man hands you a coconut from the back of his van. A child walks by with a bulldog. When the puppy barks, the kid slaps it and says, “I’m teaching him to be mean.” Coco water spills from the hole in the fruit onto your wrists. If you sign the lease, this child will be shoving marshmallows between the laces of your Nikes, throwing mud clods at your six-paned windows and the iron bars that stripe them. You’ll tell him he can’t visit after eight o’clock, not on school nights. But the next Tuesday he’ll be back on your stoop, and the two of you will watch a black Explorer speed halfway down the block, then halfway back in reverse. The girl with the crooked spine who everyday wears the same rainbow bikini and see-through shirt will negotiate from the curb then get in. Some days there will be gunshots. Other days, radios. The man on the corner will brag how he strangled his lieutenant. “Boss wouldn’t say how come we were in Cambodia.” The kid will tell you that the vet’s name has been wiped from the VA list and that’s why he’s got no help for his cripple leg. If you stay for a year, the neighbor with the soon-to-be-pregnant wife might stop watching you from the V in his blinds and walk across the street with his machete. When you’re done drinking, he’ll whack open your coconut and show you how the best meat’s hidden inside.

ANYA GRONER’s poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including FlatManCrooked, Word Riot, Nano, Memphis Magazine, and Umbrella Journal. She recently received her MFA from the University of Mississippi where she held a Grisham fellowship. She continues to teach and write in Oxford, Mississippi.