Untitled Country Review (ISSN 2152-7903), published quarterly during 2010-2013, features poetry, book reviews, photography, and short works of non-fiction. Thank you for visiting.

Issue 6: Alyse Bensel

by Paula Lietz

While Waiting for an Oil Change

A television blares debates on oil, food prices.
Spend like it’s 2007, the headline pops.
Phones ring at the front desk. The technician answers
each with “It’s a great day at Tires Plus.”
A grey-haired man takes a seat beside me,
smiling, sighs “You come in for a 35-dollar job
and 1,000 dollars later you leave.”

Jason says I have a torn brake-line, an oil leak,
more replacing. He leads me through the shop,
yelling “Watch your language boys!” He points
to the tear, the leak. I nod, pretend like I know
what car parts they mean. Back in the waiting room,
people pray on the television screen while I try
to calculate the cost – labor spent, labor lost.

We Pretend Like We Lounge Naked in the Grass Every Day

Tipsy on boxed wine,
I am impatient—
beside me, Emily bites her nails.
Erica fumbles brass buttons
on her low-cut jeans.

Here, in the quiet before
frat boys, girls painted like forest floors
begin the yearly descent
to the flagpole. I soak my fingers
in night dew, lean back
to spot hazy stars.

Emily stands up,
sprints downhill to the flagpole.
The lampposts
give off faint light
in early morning fog.
Her body’s shadow,
highlights of white skin.

I follow her, then Erica.
Three lone naked girls for a moment,
then joined by frat boys holding
lukewarm cans of Natty Ice.
We introduce ourselves, polite,
eyes staring straight ahead.

Soon the rest, spectators before,
now descend the brick stairs, small hills.
What was once a whisper is now a jumble
of laughter, of screams while we jump
and run in midnight dark.

Alyse Bensel, a native of Pennsylvania, currently resides in State College, PA, while pursuing her MFA in poetry at Penn State. When not engaged in her teaching and studies, she works at non-profit art organizations and for a work-share program at a local CSA. Her poetry has appeared in The Meadowland Review, and her book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Newpages, Rain Taxi, MAKE Literary Magazine, CALYX, EOAGH, Coldfront, and on WPSU radio.

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