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Two Poems by Suzanna C. de Baca

by Suzanna C. de Baca

That's a Good Girl

That’s a Good Girl

He said: That’s a good girl.

On your knees, head down,

on the floor, take some more.

For the business deal, for your career,

for the rent, for your reputation.

Just because I can.

He said: Sit up, shut up,

don’t say a word, don’t tell my wife,

don’t talk to HR. You asked for it,

you wore it, you made me do it.

He said: What’s it gonna cost,

what’s it gonna be, what do we gotta pay

to make this go away? One fifty, a million,

a brand new Mercedes, a diamond

bracelet, a corner office?

I said, but only to myself:

You can try, but you can never

really buy silence. The lies ooze

like pus from an open wound,

festering and spreading, fetid and foul.

Sooner or later, facts bubble up,

evidence emerges, stories are corroborated,

the video shows your face. No cash

or check or brick of gold will erase

what is real, what we still feel

in the darkest spaces.

When the truth appears,

it will unfold like a snake

and swallow you whole.


Tuk Tuk Taco Bar

I knew that following you to your new restaurant after hours was ill-advised, what with the way you gave off a smoky heat when you looked at me, slowly blinking those slightly hooded blue eyes when we talked business. / But I did want to go. / After all, you were an entrepreneur, a visionary, with your high voltage smile gleaming out from the pages of glossy magazines. / At least I had the good sense to drive my own car and meet you there. / So I cruised down Central Expressway in my old beat up Toyota Corolla and parked in the empty lot of the strip mall near the Anatole Hotel, street lamps already illuminating the storefront in the dusk. /

You were standing in front of the glass doors, tall and slim and blond, with a colossal cream cowboy hat perched on your head, a massive Lone Star buckle sparking on your belt. / You were gleaming like a rodeo trophy. / With a self-assured swagger, you whipped out a set of keys, jangled them back and forth and there we were in the foyer, slick ceramic tile shining under our feet. /

You snapped on the fluorescent light fixtures with a cocky confidence, and in the buzzing, pulsing light you proudly pointed out the condiment counter, the shining stainless steel taco bar with the plexiglass hood, the sleek booths with red and green vinyl seats, the upholstered banquette backs sporting sequined sombrero designs. / You bragged about how the customers would have choices, how they could pick out their own salsas and radishes and jalapeños.Revolutionary, you said. /

You waltzed me around the kitchen, squawking about margin and inventory, brainstorming promotions, spitballing names: Should we call it Taco Bar or Taco Hut, or – get this! – Tuk Tuk Taco. / I didn’t even understand what Tuk Tuk Taco meant, but everyone said you were a genius, so I followed you around like a stray dog, hungrily taking notes and nodding yes, yes, Is ee, that’s brilliant. /

So when you turned around and lunged at me, the look of a starving hyena in your eye, why wasI surprised? / The signs had been there all along. / You kissed me, pushing me up against the hard metal condiment bar. / For a moment, your touch was electric, / but then you jammed your tongue deep down my throat and rammed your thumb right into the soft groove between my collar bones and circled your fingers around my neck. / Bile rose up in the back of my mouth and my heartbeat clanged like a firehouse bell in my temples, and I pulled away, saying, No, no, stop, please, stop. /

That is when you grabbed my whole upper right arm, yanking so hard that the sleeve of my new white silk blouse ripped clear off at the shoulder. / I fell head first against the sharp edge of the

stainless steel taco bar and clipped my cheekbone on the way to the ground. / Sticky blood ran down my face and onto my collar, first a pinprick of red and then a bloom spreading as if I’dbeen shot in the chest. / I staggered to my feet and started to run, but you grabbed my wrist anduttered a plaintive cry – as if you were the one who’d been injured: / Please, don’t tell my wife! / When I wrenched your hand away, you bleated: I’ll make it up to you! / You can eat for freewhen we open. /

As I pushed open the glass door and ran, clicking in my high heels across the parking lot to the car in the hot, sticky Texas night, I wondered: Who thinks they can buy silence with tacos? / I drove home to my apartment and buried the blouse deep in the garbage, wadded up in a bloody ball, as if burying evidence. / And I never did say anything to anyone.


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