In the one-seater

at the bar in Deep Ellum, Dallas

the vending machine takes the space

of sink and toilet combined,

offering tampons, condoms,

BJ blast, clit ticklin’ bunny,

pink-opal mini vibrator,

purple feather nip clips,

But no change.


It makes sense:

everything you need for a night-out

at a venue occupied by twenty-somethings

serving both beer and wine in plastic cups.


So different than the machines

in the entrance to the grocery store.

Stacked, hip high, holding

gumballs, stickers, temporary tattoos,

plastic charms in opaque plastic eggs

to occupy any two-to-eight year-old

for the duration of a shopping list.


In the hotel lobby beside the ice dispenser

the machines are in categories:

“caffeinated beverages,”

“stuff you only eat on vacation,”

“smaller versions of things you forgot at home.”


The pleasure of dropping coins through the slot,

the privilege of selection,

the anonymity of the machine,

the magic of the correct arm twisting to release.


As much as it is about offering

the right thing at the right time—

predicting type, purpose, preference, need

or desire—it is about being offered anything at all,

being considered, being known,

encountered by a stranger who says,

“I knew you would be here,”
“I thought you might like this,”

“You look like you could use

a good ________________.”

What are you looking for?