Teach Your Dog to Tango by Nicole Michaels

Use a different glass every time
as you drain, alone, a bottle of wine,
and leave each vessel on the counter unwashed.
It will look like you threw a party.

Exit an empty house listening to music.
The spines of cellos will stand up in your absence,
a saxophone has stretched out on the couch.
A swaying gown has challenged a curtain to a duel.
No telling what you’ll come home to.

Shop a thrift store for T-shirts that lay
claim to many adventures:
Marathons, fundraisers, exotic vacations.
Causes and out of the way bars.
Wear them all and lie when asked.

Test drive cars you can’t afford and tell the salesman
one of your boyfriends will stop by to close the deal.
Tell him to be discreet:
You are not sure which one it will be,
and you don’t want a scene.
Leave him guessing. Leave your card.
Watch him press his nose against the car window like a puppy.

You are unforgettable.

Go around in too much perfume and too much rouge
from the testers at department stores. Buy nothing.
Wear a long dark coat and dark glasses and walk
with a purpose; people will mistake you
for a celebrity they can’t quite place.

Be your own hope chest. Buy yourself a promise ring.

Whatever you do,
forget the brave face.
Cry all you like – you are done
throwing things
and tears are just the ghosts
of all you dry-eyed broke against the walls –
there’s a river in you –

but remember to also dance barefoot on the carpet
and slide in your socks on tile floors.
Teach your dog to tango as the water rises.




Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.


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