Party City
Jonathan Owen May

Balloon flesh gleams through hot July windows,
winks in the light at all the passing goers-by.
The stoned employees slurp helium with shrill
glee, anxious for their next cigarette break. James
wants to wait for Stewart so they can make out.
Napkins and plates and table weights festooned
with the hero of a thousand and one faces, blue
and red for boys, funky pinks and mint for little
girls. No one rattles the maracas in the costume
aisle. The two night managers drink sweet tea
and Crown from a cooler in the back. Piñatas
hang from the ceiling as if martyred—they will
bleed for you if you show them enough love.
Over the loudspeaker hum the daily discounts.
The candy lies terrified in bags as the old women
shuffle toward it. Stewart finally trades off
at the register. James tastes nicotine and Stewart
behind the store. Light invades directionally
from all sides. Inside the green dumpster, queen
of the roaches feasts on the leftover chicken.

Jonathan Owen May grew up in Zimbabwe as the child of missionaries. A queer writer, he lives and teaches in Memphis, TN, where he uses poetry therapy to help people with eating disorders. His work has appeared in [PANK], Superstition Review, Duende, One, and Rock & Sling. He recently translated the play Dreams by Günter Eich into English. Read more at