The Bluejay Scolds
by Laura Pena

her father and brother warn her to stay away
it’s not a place for proper girls
but her curiosity eats her like a hungry alligator
she has to see what is inside
she sneaks in through the kitchens
runs past the bar, darts into a dark corner

she stares, awed, unable to move
smoke, jukebox noise, loud voices
shouting, dark liquids poured into
glasses, and men slobbering over
short-dressed, painted women

she stares, awed, unable to move
her father, dressed in a suit,
talks to men, women laugh
by their sides, she watches her father
smile, swirl a dark drink, swallow it
and run his hand along a woman’s arm

she stares until a large shape blocks
her view, she looks up at her brother
his face a strobe in the low light
grabbing her hand he pulls
her behind him and brings

her out into the night
go home he says, turns
and disappears back inside
she never goes back, though
sometimes she thinks about it
and her brother never tells

their father she had been
inside his Bluejay Night Club

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