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Gossip Pinwheel

Denise Duhamel

(for six petals, to be read in a circle, starting on any stanza, clockwise or
counterclockwise, whichever way the wind blows…)

Gossip swirled wherever Z went.
X was sleeping with Y, Z said,
and everyone suspected it was a lie
when Y swore to X that he’d leave his bleep-
ing wife. The wife’s friends whispered
behind her back, unable to tell her the truth:

X wasn’t even a “real” woman. In truth
she was a post-op transsexual who went
to Switzerland where her breasts whispered,
Please let me out, and a surgeon said,
Here’s my card. If you need anything else, beep
me at home.
Z couldn’t tell a lie:

When the wife called Z to say Y lied
about where he’d been, Z felt the truth
bubble towards her lips. Only the beep
of call-waiting saved her. The wife went
to take Y’s call and said
she’d call Z back. The whole town whispered:

The wife’s pockets filled with the whisper
of stolen bills from the cash register. She lied
to her boss about sales. She took a sed-
ative, and recorded, If you must know the truth,
I’m not answering because I just underwent
plastic surgery. Leave your message after the beep.

Why didn’t you wave when I beeped
my horn?
a desperate X whispered
into the answering machine. The wife went
to pick up the phone. Y was with Z playing jai alai
—or was he? The wife asked, Tell me the truth.
X, did you have work done?
X said:

My lips are silicone. Y said,
Both my mistress and wife have new beep-
beeps. And I have betrayed the truth
of the flesh.
Z whispered,
But why tell me? You can’t rely
on Z to keep your secret.
The story went:

Denise Duhamel

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