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Brenda Nicholas

Bird Cage

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The 1920s passed with her perched
on the southwest corner of her couch,
in a yellow, green, blue, or red dress
layered in fringe,
a faded yellow feather boa,
and long strand of pearls around her neck,
her long skinny legs folded like a flamingo
on the armrest of the couch,
a long cigarette wand burned in one hand,
a tumbler full of icy cocktail jiggled in the other.
She was just south of buzzed
day after day.
Her husband-the-important-doctor
didn't want her to work,
didn't want her to paint,
play bridge, or go to typing school.
When I'd stop by to see her
she'd ask me in her quiet voice
to go out and buy her some stockings.
When I'd asked her what color,
she'd tell me it didn't matter.

Elevator Love

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Pushing 30, she pushed the button: UP.
She could/would move up from the ground,
from the poverty and small town,
to find a man with purpose and a pocket
to prove it,
to rise above her loud, over-sized family:
the diapers, the canned meat, the dirty nails.
She could/would fit in as a rich wife,
a faux debutante, a recycled princess.
She had a finger and had it figured out:
She could/would spend her unemployed days
riding elevators in fancy buildings
until he steps in/up.

Dating Story Trilogy

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The Importance of Breathing Air

She went on a blind coffee date with a man she met online. His voice gurgled wet with strain. Every word trickled up through his larynx from the decomposed depths of his chest as if it were his last. Gremlins lived in his lungs. He was Puff the Magic Wolfman with tiny, furry greenish gremlins huffing, puffing, banging, and building a grand gremlin village inside his body. Perhaps the gremlins believe they are captives, POWs digging tunnels to freedom, crawling along his esophagus and tracheal tube toward fresh air. There was that, and he said Vegas was his favorite vacation spot.


TMI took her out for coffee. She said it was a pleasure to meet a 48 year-old teen. She liked that he is laid back and lives in a small apartment in a hip college kid section of the city and plays the drums in a band that plays cover tunes. He told her he wanted to finish only 2 years of college, hates to read books, gave up an opportunity to attend a 4-year college at age 27 because he didn't want any more work, is terrible at math, has had 2 pacemakers in the past 4 years, keeps his 80 lb. dog in a crate all day, and so far 5 women have lost interest in him after 5 dates.


Last night she dated Let You Entertain Me. She could see his invisible remote control aimed at her: click, "tell me something surprising about you." Click, "I want to be challenged at every turn." Click, "What are you wearing?" Click, "Make me laugh." And it turned her off.

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