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Just Bulbs by Alexis Quinlan | Word Riot

February 15, 2016      

Just Bulbs by Alexis Quinlan

In those days, the kind of scared that all saw
but me. Traveling. Someone had come along to help

which I understood barely. Arm, mouth. Voice,
script. Head, head. Late nights in dingy pensions, he’d

recite David Letterman routines. One he told
and retold: Dave at Just Bulbs. This was pre-Internet,

before cell phones, we entertained ourselves.
The store was on E. 60th, it’s there to this day,

and Dave had brought a video crew and a mike to inquire,
Excuse me, ma’am, do you sell lamps?

We’d had a bottle of wine by that point, at least, and
the hotel sheets were thin and scratchy, and

No, sir, replied the earnest employee. We only sell bulbs.
We were in Spain then, and: How about shades? Can I get shades here?

or maybe France, whole weeks knitted around the International
Herald Tribune. Sir, we are just bulbs. At one of the pensions,

an ancient duena in black came hollering
when the shower ran over two minutes. We had

nowhere to go, or I didn’t.
So, besides bulbs, what exactly can you get here?

The next morning, coffee, and we’d start it over again.

ToyCameraaqandartAbout the author:

Alexis Quinlan is a poet, sometime travel writer, and English adjunct (lately at Fordham University) living in New York City. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Drunken Boat and, more recently, in Rhino, Tinderbox and Human Journal. She’s published two chapbooks and once won a prize.

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