“J. Is Cute and All, But He Ain’t So Cute That I Cain’t Do Better” by D. Nolan Jefferson

Issue 21 / Spring 2020


He walks on the cuffs of his pants

and the way he clears his country boy throat is an abomination.

For someone that I suspect might be an on-the-sly sex worker,

you’d think he’d be better at it.


There were things I liked—maybe even loved: the flat root beer

brown eyes, that thatch of curly hair sprawled

across his chest in between a pair of chewable dime-sized nipples.

His gumbo was next level, and lord, that deep

fried southern smile.


He played in a band, and I love music.

But hell, he played in a band, and musicians?

Hrm, maybe I don’t love them so much.


He slid through after his set at Hilberto’s,

with his funk of ranchero sauce and salty oil air
ducking his wispy-haired head

into my icebox and coming out with a beer or three

like he was the one making trips to Costco.


Listen: I deserve better.


I knee-high strutted away and left

him behind glinting like hot nickels. I settled for him thinking

he was the only thing looking, knowing good goddamn well

the lord takes care of fools, old folks, and children,

and two outta three ain’t bad.


I’m a big, burly, thick like a snicka boo. You don’t think I ain’t seen how

these wondrous thighs grind up and clap on one another? This beefy ass belly

perched over the edge of my waistband is a political statement

but that don’t mean I don’t deserve

to be somebody’s baby.


This late-night beer-stealing, air-con-enjoying dude was pretty,

I suppose, but I’m cute too and I can fuck.

I fell in like and rose in equilibrium;

I tripped over love and bumped my head on good sense.


I ain’t got to get over him, cuz I’m a cloud:

done already rose above him.


There’s too much gumption in this gut and ass in these streets;

time to stop shrinking myself down to fit inside spots I’ve already outgrown.

Ain’t enough seersucker, cocksucker, southern boy steeze in the world.


Bitch, he gon’ learn today.


So let me unbuckle this belt, unlock this man, and set him free;

swing these brick house hips right on down the block.


I’m about to spontaneously combust.

I’m smoldering.

I’m big momma’s pound cake.

I’m golden.

I’m infinite fire emojis.

I’m sizzling.

I’m top five.

I’m where lightning strikes twice.

I’m ten thousand retweets.

I’m a barn-burner.

I’m amazing.

I’m made outta stars.



D. Nolan Jefferson is a member of the library faculty and an MFA candidate at American University. His prose appears in Tahoma Literary Review, Red Savina Review, Orca Literary, Empty Mirror, Hobart Pulp, and elsewhere. He is an AWP Intro Journal Project Award winner, a 2019 Kimbilio Fiction fellow, and enjoys tacos, collecting records, and fellow introverts. He tweets at @geekandahalf.

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