Today, we’re featuring Alexis Quinlan’s tribute to Texas riot grrls. The riot grrls are one of the original inspirations for/pioneers of the Gurlesque. What better way to celebrate them than with a rockin’ poem, right?


Five Volvos In and Out of Texas


There was a girl in Austin, lewd girl from Lake Charles,

did the boarding school in Dallas and drank like an oil man

who’d struck it so rich so fast that he retired at forty

to perfect his veal cordon Cajun and to phone the dorm

weekly, basso bursting between slugs: Whar’s mah li’l girl?

That was her daddy. Hers was black, the boxy kind

they stopped making in ‘76, and she sped us around to buy

blow, played the songs we liked for as long as we liked.


There was a Houston girl with angel-blond hair

home-grown on Kirby Drive. Hers was a cast-off from

her professor pop who’d flayed his son in Cambridge

tones ‘til the boy blew his head off in the pool house.

Got sniffed out later by a maid. The summer of

our girl group, she to-and-fro’d us across East Texas,

the damned swamp, pulling over when stars were big,

were bright, to see Orion take aim.


And another lean blonde who hammered tile and bottles

to glitter chips for wall-sized mosaics. Iguanas. Her

fingers were wrecked but her face fine and she liked

to hop on the bar at Café Noche when the jukebox

played its lone Stones song, laugh her low, sexy laugh

until laughter hiccupped to tears. Her dad bought her

a silver beater named Betty, then left for a margaritaville

in Northwest Mex that took his social security checks.


In those Texas days I wanted a car for safety

that comes from fathers, safety like my father did

not offer in the while he might have. I paid cash for

sunny yellow, smiley-face yellow, warning yellow, pus

yellow. Only after I’d driven far away would I

wake to know how one cliché had soaked us good

and wrung us dumb, how these cars were garish

mockeries of safe, how we’d morphed our young selves


into drag queens of free, stuffing our bras with itchy

bravado and a dripping, rancid glee. Though I loved –

all four of us did – hell, our daddies did too –

the night sky on the back roads toward Austin,

for we always stopped (when there was time)

to watch Orion take his best shot against what is

and take it again and again.



Alexis Quinlan is a poet, travel writer, and English teacher (lately at Fordham) in New York City. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Drunken Boat and others, and are forthcoming in Rhino and Human Journal.


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