Safe Space (Pay By the Hour)

Foot 4
By Mary Animaux

At Riff Hauss
They make fun of my tiny practice amp
And offer to help carry the Vox Jaguar I play so poorly
The dented microphone in our regular rehearsal room
Smells like someone put it up their ass
And left it there for a long weekend
Before plugging it in

At Greenhouse
I pound on the door and then sit on the front steps and smoke cigarettes
Waiting for someone, anyone, to get there
And let me in
Finally the door clicks open from the inside
And twenty people spill out all at once
AA meeting
Staring at the 10AM tall can between my legs

At Bedrock I get lost in the horror hallway of doors
And end up
In a rehearsal space covered with newspapers
Stammering shy with strangers
Staring at the 10PM tall can between my legs

At Soundbite
Black lights shine on a neon treble clef
Painted on the side of the building
This must be the place
There is a black ninja on the wall
Behind the drum kit
At least someone is an artist
The baby boy at the front desk
Doesn’t know how much to charge us
That night
Even my bra smells like pot

We have a room all to ourselves
In a house in Long Beach
We begin practice
By deflating an air mattress,
And we think this means someone’s been sleeping there,
And we think he uses our guitar amp
When we are gone
And that he must like to turn the reverb up really high

In every space
I feel like a hack
Like an audience member
Who just stood so close to the stage
So many times
She just somehow ended up on it
Like there is a sickness of showing up
And a stubbornness
Worse than the wart that grew on my right hand
The year I turned thirty,
And more itchy

We practice in a tiny room in the back
Of a warehouse
And then wait
And the keyboard player
And drummer
And bass player
Have left
And I can put my arms around the guitar player’s neck
And kiss him
While he strums pretend chords into my back

And our secret is safe.

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