Puma Perl


Caramel syrup
Swells my lip

I sit on a bus stop bench
eating only the vanilla
ice cream

Less soothing
than it sounds

One of many
tastes that fall short
of fantasy

Five dollars
and I threw half
of it in the garbage

I’d had another
five in my pocket
but I gave it
to the homeless girl

She was sitting on a
cardboard sign, arguing
with her boyfriend

He pretended
to be passed out

Maybe he was
She said it was her birthday

Maybe it wasn’t
Or was

I gave her the five
birthday or not
We’re Virgos,
struck by Mercury

Or pretending
to be

She hugged me
and cried,

Beautiful girl,
She looked like Kim,
my designer friend
Nose ring and all

I don’t know
if you’re supposed to
feel good when you do
these things

It’s like shooting dope
Lasts a minute
and you’re back
where you were

Sitting on cardboard

An hour later
I’m tossing out
vanilla ice cream
and thinking
about the things
I shouldn’t do
and probably will


How do we compensate
for the mistakes
we’re about to make

There is little doubt
that we’ll fuck up

My lip is swollen
and cut

This morning,
I found
some balm
in my pocket

Easier to heal
the present
than the past

Even ice cream
has a price


Puma Perl is a performer, producer, and a widely published poet/writer. She’s the author of two chapbooks, Belinda and Her Friends and Ruby True, and two full-length collections, knuckle tattoos and Retrograde. As Puma Perl and Friends, she performs with some of NYC’s best musicians and merges poetry with rock n roll. She is a regular contributor to The Villager. Puma is a recipient of a 2016 Acker Award in the category of writing, and a 2015 New York Press Association Award in recognition of her journalism.