Surprise Me: Poetry by Mathieu Cailler

“Things That Trouble Me:” and “The Cadillac Lounge”


Things That Trouble Me:


Just a few things that trouble me: dentists, middle seats,

men who wear flip flops out to dinner, heights, lawyers

with ponytails, funny pilots, people who say “I’m not

racist but…”, Lucille Ball’s face, cookies with raisins,

folks who wear more than one scarf, patrons who say

“surprise me” to the bartender, compression shorts,

corgis, the phrase “bomb dot com”, foam at fancy

restaurants, my uncle’s toupee, zippers that aren’t

YKK, fake eyelashes, abandoned tire swings, cereal

that alters the color of milk, turbulence, “we need to

talk”, “don’t be mad when I tell you this”, merging

onto freeways, those who believe the Earth came with

borders, morons in infomercials, folks who make a

production out of tasting wine, news tickers at the bottom

of screens, non-dairy creamer, motel bedspreads, “got

a second”, “heads up”, FYI, ASAP, those who never

ask a question, people who fart on planes, water bottles,

flat sheets, friends you can’t get rid of, hotel room coffee

pots, that air-puff test at the eye doctor, craft beer,

motorcycle-riders who wear tennis shoes, cops who ride

horses, the microwave telling me to “enjoy”, hangnails,

mouth-breathers, hold music, forgetting my password,

finding the beginning of a roll of tape, damaged goods (of

all sorts), reply-all emails, waitresses with long nails,

people who pee in the urinal next to you, “you forgot

to assign homework”, drive-thru screaming, guys who

call girls “chicks”, CVS long-ass receipts, those stuffed-

animal-claw vending machines, celebrities that can’t

believe they’re getting photographed on the corner of

Hollywood and Vine, Pez candies, couples who own

a dog and call themselves “mommy” and “daddy”,

inspirational quotes posted online by people living

on a friend’s couch, fruit cake, naked dudes who stretch in

the steam room, plastic wrappers on razor blades, the thought of not

hearing “I love you back,” the thought of not being able

to impress you, the thought of not being able

to keep you, the thought of penning your eulogy.



The Cadillac Lounge


a Tuesday in early March

at a strip club off the

train tracks in Providence


the neon is burned out

                      so the sign

just reads, The Cad Lounge


it’s advertised as a spot

                        with the

most beautiful women

that “wear nothing more

                        than a

smile and a G-string”


music thunders and men

                        stay still

in leather-backed seats


erections for affection


sweaty bills wadded in fists

shiny with grease


chicken wings and curly fries


lust seethes through blood-shot

eyes and

half smiles


stamped-out Marlboros and

Camels, these bent worms

of addiction


bass rips and bodies

glide—a dance, a flash,

a clack

of high heels


bodies lacquered with perfume

                        and lotion

                        and caked-on

makeup to camouflage

                        black eyes


midriffs undulate like the

winter Atlantic


and transactions follow—

legal tender for human



the night passes

                        like this


with no way to see time move

other than the

                        wrist watch

of the bouncer

who cuts on the fluorescent

                        tubes at 1 a.m.


allowing the dancers

to tuck behind

                        the curtain

to the dressing room backstage


with naked light bulbs and mirrors


where they

remove their makeup

and persona, swapping

“Cinnamon” for “Cindy”


and wrap themselves

                        in heavy winter garb


coats and boots and

                        stocking caps


to ward off the many advances


by that

Rhode Island chill

Mathieu Cailler is a writer of poetry and prose. His work has been widely featured in national and international publications, including the Los Angeles Times and The Saturday Evening Post. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, he is the recipient of a Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. He is the author of Clotheslines (Red Bird Chapbooks), Shhh (ELJ Publications), and Loss Angeles (Short Story America Press), which has been honored by the Hollywood, New York, London, Best Book, and International Book Awards.


Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

  1. March 14, 2017 @ 4:01 pm julie brown

    Love the line: “legal tender for human touch.” I could feel it.
    I have read Callier’s short stories – he’s an excellent writer. Happy to find his poetry here.

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