BathHouse Journal

Karen Lepri


27 minutes ago/#steustachy posts a photo of a person on the subway, probably the F train, but it could be the B or D. I recognize the orange bench. Few trains have these anymore. I love to sit unmurmuring in the crook of the L seat, wedge one foot into the bumped-out siding. You can only see the legs, nothing else, one ankle resting on the opposite knee. The pin-point is either the tattoo or the sneakers. The tattoo: a profile of Barbara Streisand’s protoplasmic face. Just below this, a larger version of the same framed side-face, but the metallic silver and black, zip-up high-tops cut her off at the eyebrows.


1 hour ago/#studio.hh posts a photo of some lack-a-day walking in a subway tunnel—perhaps the transfer between the 2/3 and the 6th ave. L at 14th street (but I could be wrong) wearing a jumper she designed. I met Hannah at Stacey’s book party in Ginger’s back patio (only lesbian bar in Brooklyn). Hannah was wearing one. She cuts squares out of jumpsuits according to a pattern resulting in partly transparent, partly opaque grid-clothes. These might or might not require layering. In the photo, basil limps unremonstrant out the butt pocket. Do I want a grid outfit or do I want to be seen through like carrion? Make a note to myself to donate my body to science.


3 hours ago/#flockofsiegel posts a video from her archive (she says) of herself in a red hoodie copying a voguing ball performer on the sidewalk. The performer wears a black beret, black scoopneck top, and black pants. A star-shaped pendant hangs between their breasts. Lauren’s arms are flappy and wrong. In the background, enough neon lights to make you think, Times Square, empyrean. Lauren says to dm her if you want the details. I do. I also redo the vulgar moves in a mirror in an effort to get out of a funk.


4 hours ago/#kmandolin posts a photo of a sticker on a graffiti-lathed mailbox that reads, “We don’t need any more coffee shops.” The tag above the sticker is silver and illegible, looping scrawl shot through with drip and arrow. Next to it someone’s name looks like it would be pronounced “Zanax.” An old girlfriend of mine used to fly from LAX to JFK where I’d pick her up. She’d fetch a Zanax from her pocket and suck it down like chloroform right as she sank into the backseat of the cab and kissed me. “Coffee shops” in the sticker is code for yuppie entravement, bougie delis, white people. In the slim background, an iron fence, lush ivy skirting the sidewalk, aged tree trunk, yellow stoplight, and flashing bodega sign. Pangs of guilt, seed-cake craving, my coffee cradled in my hands.


2 days ago/#katypyle7 posts a photo of Circus Amok performing in Prospect Park. Center stage is Jennifer Miller, ring-leader, famous for her beard and her wildness and her unbosomed asininity. Her magenta gown…just say it—magenta gown—you want one. A band of musicians back her up wearing red and white, striped tops and blue and white, striped bottoms. The trees cast filigree shadows over the dirt stage. Earlier this summer, I sat on the floor of Jennifer’s studio and wrote a story about abandonment. But this is different from the sheer abandon dotting her face.


3 days ago/#lacyjags posts a photo of peeled paint on a subway platform column at Jay St. The column appears to have been painted black green most recently. The peel reveals it used to be yellowish white, a sand color, but that could the lighting—it is dark compared to the glowing florescent tableau across the tracks. One woman with one hand on her chin and one arm across her chest faces the tracks. Another woman with a blue and black paraphrenalia stares at the gutter. A man in a yellow shirt looks like he’s leaving the station. The peel mark looks Grecian, or like a block-print, or, as Matt comments, like a mermaid. I don’t see the mermaid. I see an armless statue, a devil’s tail, a one-hipped creature, a cud. I see other scraplets straining from the other side.


Karen Lepri is a poet, translator, and essayist living in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in various national and international literary journals, such as Conjunctions, Chicago Review, and Shearsman. Lepri is the author of “Fig. I” (2012, Horse Less Press); and Incidents of Scattering (Noemi, 2013). She teaches writing and literature at Cooper Union, Bard, and CUNY.