Top Seven Places to Kiss a Cryptid

By Shelley Valdez

i’m talking MOTHMAN. i’m talking IN-BETWEEN SPACES. i’m talking TRUE OCTOBER VIBES.

 

7 .     THE GAS STATION IN YOUR HOMETOWN 

but only at 8PM, 

and only after drinking 2 cheap coffees, 3 red bulls, and a slushie

and trying to fight your own shadow in the parking lot.

 

6 .     THE DOLLAR STORE

is it the neon lights? the dirty linoleum? 

    the flimsy wrapping paper? the cross-eyed figurines? 

or is it the quiet but powerful capitalistic reassurance 

that you could buy anything you see? 

the unfamiliarity of that experience 

and the strange authority you are permitted to carry 

could surely summon Mothman. 

 

5 .    THE BOWLING ALLEY

it’s the pins, my dude. the pins. 

where do they go after you knock them down? 

i mean, i guess we all sort of think we know,

but do we? do we really?


 

4 .     THE BATHROOM AT A CONCERT

it’s the muffled noise—

the music far from you, but still reverberating through the walls.

and it’s the desperation, too.

you want (or have) to be there, but you don’t. 

and you feel alone in there too

(but you don’t).

 

3 .     THE GAS STATION IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

i know what you’re thinking. didn’t i already mention a gas station? wouldn’t they all be the same?

but the gas station you go to out of habit is different 

from the one you’ve never known. 

especially during a roadtrip, and especially alone. 

as you lament the .000007 ply toilet paper in the bathroom 

and scavenge for new snacks

you feel drawn to the other customers, 

but you don’t know what to say.

any one of them could be from another dimension,

    but maybe you’ll never know.

 

2 .     STAIRWELLS

once, in a stairwell at a museum,

i heard the most beautiful singing. but no matter how high i climbed, 

i couldn’t find the source of the sound. 

as i began to get lost, 

out of nowhere, I called out, 

 

“you have a wonderful voice”

 

i wanted to be true to my gratitude, even if it was

to something invisible.

in the end, the singer turned out to be a body guard.

but there, in the stairwell, we had both been believing

in ghosts.

 

1 .     YOUR BEDROOM AT 3AM IN THE DARK

but only when you’ve just gotten up to pee, 

or when you haven’t been sleeping at all. 

 

you’ve known it by the way 

you never let any of your limbs 

hang off the mattress. 

you’ve known it by the way 

you always speed-walk back to your bed 

after turning out the lights. 

 

there’s something you see in the mirror, but it doesn’t look like you. 

don’t make eye contact.