smile, kindly, in self-defense by Eliana Vanessa

Eliana Vanessa, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Eliana 4

smile, kindly, in self-defense


i brace

before my bff, Mike,

the detective, talks,

especially around

the holidays,


the conversation

often begins with a compliment,

something along the lines of,

“Babydoll, you know i love your smile,

but remember…”


then he’ll

go on to inform me,

for the umpteenth time,

that crime and riff-raff

start with premature laughter,


and that

i should watch my step

or i’d end up like the woman

he once knew who worked

downtown like i do,


she had the smile of a clown,

in his own words,

and, absurdly,

bought every parking attendant

a gift for Christmas, that is,



she got thrown

in her own trunk,

found, days later,



and he

thinks nothing

of telling me these things

one week before

the twenty fifth of December


as he’s

walking me to my car,

street lights, resembling bright eyes,

appearing above both sides of us

in the dark,



he realizes my gestures

have gotten more serious

and blurts out,

“i didn’t mean to scare you, Love,”




even though we both know

it’s exactly what he wanted to do.

and all i can think of to say

that might lighten

the mood is,


“let me get this straight,

you want me to wait, till the body’s cold,

before making any jokes? …got it!”

to which he grins, warmly,

and replies, “exactly.”



Eliana Vanessa is originally from Argentina and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana at a young age. She recently participated 100,000 Poets for Change (2018) and served as part of a panel of poets in The Jane Austen Festival (2017, 2018, 2019).   You can find her work online at The Horror Zine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and The Sirens Call Ezine, The Ramingo’s Porch, Ariel Chart, Beneath the Rainbow, and Fearless. Her poetry appears in two recent anthologies: Masks Still Aren’t Enough (2019) and Americans and Others (2019). She is Eliana Vanessa on Facebook at the following link: