Poetry by Sarah Lilius & Art by Gabrielle Grace

American Peep Show

Coins drop into a cold slot. Dusty curtain opens too fast to an underage girl with a little purple velvet tight over where it’s not as swollen as nights before, in the back with Mr. Octopus. His arms are eight opportunities, she pulls, bites them slow with snakes in mind, beady eyes watch and learn.

Fantasy ice cream heats into a puddle on the floor. Mr. Octopus uses up his arms, withers when she gains control, purple velvet falls to a painted floor. The men rejoice like it’s a Sunday hallelujah. They hold habaneros against flesh to maximize pain. Pain is the tamest word.

Sex is a four-legged animal waiting in the corner with a bad girl. Mr. Octopus whips, tries to tame her, coax her into position. He changes color when her desire pierces. Salt water dumps on her gallon after gallon. She shivers but stretches out finally. There’s a world there. Turn the video off.


Sarah Lilius is the author of five chapbooks including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017) and Traffic Girl (Ghost City Press, 2020). Some of her publication credits include the Denver Quarterly, Court Green, Tinderbox, Fourteen Hills, Boulevard and forthcoming in the Massachusetts Review and New South. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. Her website is sarahlilius.com.

Gabrielle Grace is a contemporary working and teaching artist from Saratoga Springs, New York. She now lives and works in Kingston, NY as a teacher and freelance artist. She finds herself using surrealism and maximalist elements to work on paintings, drawings, metal work, and digital collage. “Bath”, “Pop” and “Bite Me” are digital collages. IG: @theprimary_color @digitalpixieprincess