Tamed by the Cheetah

Purple light bathed center stage, disco ball twinkling above.
Men and woman lined the fringe loose with dollar bills
as I hid alone at a corner table away from hunting eyes.
Women offered affection for a price, but I wanted nothing
from them. I came here for you, as I always do.
You remembered me from a year ago, or so you said,
but you did not say my name. You did not ask either.
We moved beyond such pretension, or so I still pretend
I am special to you, that if I linger long enough, you might
share your real name, and I will give you mine.
Do you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife?
It does not matter. You live a lie. So do I. I never knew you,
but when you grind your hip against my jeans
or brush your breast against my cheek,
I feel connections deeper than anything from Tinder
or eHarmony, youth group or college.
Those matches never mattered to me, but I care about you.
They were distractions, but you are desire that inspires
me to fight depression’s drowsy symptoms and work harder
to be worthy of more of your time. You’re worth hundreds
of dollars every night. I could find more from somebody less,
but this is not about sex. I am here for love or a convincing facsimile.
My intention shines so clearly the others walk past me without a smile.
If I were rich, I’d be nicer to them, but I’m not.
I’m alone in the haze two hours away from home waiting for my turn
while desperate men beg you for another dance.
I do not compete. I wait two hours on a stool staring at poles,
waiting for you to return like you told me you would.
I just want to leave with a goodbye and a hug,
with a spirit as feathery light as my wallet.
I depart with the smell of vanilla from your flesh
and alcohol from your breath radiating off my clothes,
filling my car as I drove down a dark, empty freeway,
returning to the valley dreaming of ways to steer
our relationship to the next stage, preferably without spending much,
because even if I pretend your caress of the back of my head
as you held me close wishing me a safe trip home meant something,
I know none of it will matter once I cannot give you what you need.
Our mutual transaction—my lucrative fantasy—will end
if I ever declare bankruptcy.

Critique

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