Elaine of Corbenic, Lancelot’s Baby-Momma, Meets Guinevere at the Employee Picnic; Lancelot Questions the Clairvoyant

Shelley Puhak

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Elaine of Corbenic, Lancelot’s Baby-Momma, Meets Guinevere at the Employee Picnic

Ginny, don’t you know even the side dish
brings his own side dish to the picnic?
We met at some mouth: a tunnel, a river.

He was post-atomic; I was pre-hipster.
Lance looked like a man love-sorrowed and
book-sick, a man who needs a drink, that’s all.

I had a fancy chalice, and he was awed.
It was the waning of the oil age.
It was dopamine runs over the oil sheik

in the crosswalk of the reward pathway.
We piled cigarette butts on the sidewalk
negotiating with Cornerboy for a little

enchantment, a chance to outfox
our constant selves. We did our limbic thrust
in the dark of a downtown bower

and he couldn’t tell the two of us apart.
What man can? He couldn’t even figure out
the condom. It was all wham! bam! baby!

I was like—woah! you call that neurobiology’s
reward? But I’ll take mother of over mirror of
any old day. I’ll take another deviled egg.

Lancelot Questions the Clairvoyant

I’ve read sheep livers and intuited the yolk of
            an unblemished egg. I’ve dusted off my
planchette and began again: Spirits, what should I do?

Dress? Strip? Head west? Only Mystifying Oracle
            Ouija answers: Yes. No. Yes.
Did I tell you I signed the addendum? Shaved my neck.

Paid in full, three months early. Petitioned the City
            Directors. Ginny said no more door-to-door
troubadours, no more serenades dedicated over

the airwaves. She said go fuck Elaine.
            Madame Sosotris, what do you make of this?
I filled out the forms. I signed the addendum.

I sweated through the exam. I was told I was suited,
            I was sought after. Madame, please stop
alchemizing antibiotics—that sinus infection, still?–

and soothsay. Tell me if dying is just rewinding back
            to when I could carry my twelve-gauge
on the streetcar and no one blinked, back to when

mom and dad slept in separate beds, and under
            the basement’s single bulb, Mystifying Oracle
Ouija trembled in her eggshell negligee: Yes. Yes. Yes.

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