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Tamara Oakman, semifinalist




sex and then nothing—

this release and your hollowed—

laying next to someone

you sort of liked—


(the tequila shots helped.)


men who grew up

watching fake-breasted

blonde bombshells

lay pizza men in pornos,

and thumbed through mothers'

Victoria Secrets catalogs

stroking the California Redwood

in their pants,

are going to find it strange

when you refuse

a hand job on the first date.

you say you don’t want to be a whore,

didn’t set out to,

but sex for material possessions

comes easier

after the pain and guilt

of your first fuck fades.


who you lay and why

is no longer significant

because Julia Roberts

couldn’t sell you

on the prospect of love.

besides, she’s got enough money

to buy love

and she has to

because she’s not even

that pretty

she’s manufactured

and you’d rather be

real than rich.





your convincing self-argument

is to ask

what women are good for anyway.

to say,

even with a Masters

in Molecular Biology

he’s gonna want a lap dance.


you only play second fiddle so

he who says if you love him

if you really really really love him

you would get down

on your PhDs and suck his diploma

won’t leave you.

and you can’t let that happen

because you’re afraid to be alone.

you haven’t worked out those

abandonment issues

that started

when your first lousy lay

left you sticky and useless

as a half-eaten lollipop.


he promised

he’ll love you

forever and ever?


forever will turn out

to be

too long.







Tamara Oakman won the Judith Stark Prize in categories of poetry, short creative non-fiction, and playwriting in both 1999 and 2000. She has been published in Limited Editions (1999, 2001-2003), Hyphen (2003, 2005), The Crucible (2004) and Philadelphia Stories (Winter 2005-2006).