They Call Me Sweetie

by Anna Zilbermints

I am pleasant voice and wide eyes,
black Oreo crumbs in the
just out of reach corners of lips saying
“Thank you, have a great day!”
Candy coated words inviting nicknames like
Sweetie, Sugar, Honey,	

I make jokes and laugh at yours, because
“Wow, I’ve never heard that one before!
Especially not in the context of needing to keep my job!”		

When I ask if you’ve been out of the country in the last three weeks,
I agree that a beach
would be a much better setting to be in,
	and ignore that creepy look in your eye,						
dreaming of sun-soaked water, pina coladas, and
lines drawn in the sand, because

I can’t fight back.
And that’s just how you like me, isn’t it?
I am stuck behind
	A desk, a set of rules, and some self de-escalation techniques.	

Now maybe, I’m just really good at faking it,

or maybe, you’re just really bad at catching it, because

seventeen dark bags 
under my eyes,
black chipped nail polish fighting the urge to show
	what I really think of you.
Hands clutching the edge of the counter to keep 
from making fists when I hear lines like
	“Maybe if you didn’t have a man,
	we could talk about a different kind of membership,”
laughing uncomfortably because
	what else can I do? while

dreaming of being as far away from you
as possible.
It doesn’t have to be a beach, but
it makes it a lot easier to draw lines


And god, do I need a strong drink—
	oh, don’t get me wrong,
	I don’t mean with you,
	I like someone who’s literary, and
	you can’t even seem to read a room—

because I am not the girl you’d call
in a bar.
I just had a shot of Carolina reaper vodka,
	ready to breathe fire in your eyes.

And I’m off the clock.
So call me 

Anna Zilbermints is a graduate of the University of Iowa in English and psychology. She is a poet of both the written and spoken word varieties, having poems published through Poets' Choice and Wingless Dreamer, as well as a forthcoming video to be posted by Button Poetry.