Sunday, April 8, 2018

From Volume 38: "I always dream about money: or the mediocre happy poem" by Jacqueline Morrill



I always dream about money: or the mediocre happy poem
By Jacqueline Morrill

She answers the door almost naked
But for leopard print undies
The asshole of an orange cat stuffed under her right arm
His sleeping head cradled against her bare breast
And a plate of meringue cookies balanced in the other hand
“Hey babe!”

This is what our life looks like
What my mother has come to call the “poor phase”
As if everything is temporary
And we’re just waiting for the next level.

It is the reason why my hair looks like straw and rat tail
Why our everyday costume is more than slightly shabby.

Some nights, with our bodies bracing against the cold—
Because I refuse to keep the oil burning,
I pray we might find a winning lottery ticket lost under the driver’s seat.
But we don’t buy lottery tickets, no extra cash,
And we don’t play scratchies because my dad is superstitious.
My sister enters Publisher’s Clearing House every month and hasn’t won yet.

I am sad for myself
I am sad for this generation of degenerate debt-collecting hipsters
With dreams of poetry and poppies
Told we could be anything we want
An overwrought population of millennial potters
And bakers
And candlestick makers
Thanks to Mr. Rogers and Big Bird
for our downtrodden mantra
All you have to do is dream and you can achieve.

But
My all poet friends are potheads
Smoke dangling words like grapes above their angry, hungry mouths
My working friends are tired
Earning less than the total of monthly bills
Living the life grad school and dean’s list has gifted
My parents are unemployed
Car salesmen are a dime a dozen
The cape house retirement forgotten.

I am an unpatriotic American,
Disgusted by jingoism with hopes for a better next month
Raise your glasses, here’s a toast to
Health insurance, job security, life insurance
Rent, electric, cable, phone, school loans, school loans
Gas, maybe groceries this week, more school loans,
Car insurance, mortgage, heat, life
Walking dead horny homunculus spitting ink
Onto signs reading God Bless the estimated 3650 homeless
Worcesterites hobnobbing from Kelly Square to Webster Square
Peg-legged, pit-mouthed, and sucking dry air from a God
We don’t
I can’t believe in anymore.

But today, when I see her smile
A soft furry purring thing at her side
The smell of red sauce stewing in the kitchen
And the ring on her fourth finger that matches my own
The ring that symbolizes the freedom to touch in ways Russia could never understand
The freedom to love in ways Uganda kills for
The freedom to proclaim unity in ways Arizona can never refuse
I don’t regret the $40 copay for intent to unionize document
Or the $75 marriage license
Or the $20 bottle of cava to celebrate
Or the $100 in tips saved up for three days
For tapas barely covering tiny square plates
Our swan-arm taste testing cold meat
that melts on our tongues to heal daily sores slow, slow.
Slowly.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

From Volume 38: "Watching the Film About Robert Bly" by James K. Zimmerman



Watching the Film About Robert Bly
By James K. Zimmerman

hair white as the snows
he remembers, sky
he writes about

nail-bitten hands pushing
rocks uphill, furrowed
still flutter like sparrows
when the wheat is ripe

gray eyes full as a morning
fog in Minnesota winter

voice at times the honk
of a goose in migration
laugh of a midnight loon
prideful lion’s roar
bellow of a moose in rut

on his serape
his father’s dust lingers
Basho whispers in his ear

the popcorn is very good
with butter and salt

and after, there is a long line
at the urinal, drumming

Sunday, February 11, 2018

From Volume 38: "Altamira" by Harry Gordon



Altamira
By Harry Gordon

After the Fiesta de San Fermín
we drove up from Pamplona
to Laredo and slept together that night
on the beach
where the ebb is so extreme that
in the morning it looked as though
the ocean had disappeared.

I can still see you lying there
at dawn, dozing,
as satisfied and indifferent
as a pub cat.

That afternoon we drove up to
see the ancient paintings
on the low ceiling of the Altamira Caves,
handsome, sinewy deer,
bulls, and horses, their muscles
contoured by the stone.
There were no men in the pictures,
so I convinced myself that the artist was a woman.

We crawled in on all fours,
like the beasts above us,
and in turn lay on a rock worn smooth
by thousands of tourists
and one great artist.

I remember lying there and looking up
and, near the charging bull,
seeing her tiny hand print,
her signature in ochre,
the only thing left of her now.

I reached up through time
and placed my hand on hers
and wished that I could be that close to you.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

From Volume 38: "Suburban Housewife" by David S. Macpherson



SUBURBAN HOUSEWIFE
By David S. Macpherson


When I was a suburban housewife in the 1970s, before everything changed so drastically, you could play with your kids and still smoke cigarettes. You didn’t want your kids to smoke, but back then, we believed in the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Soccer had just become popular so I drove the kids in the station wagon to practices and games. Or they ran off to another kid’s backyard for T-ball or touch football or whatever else suburban kids did to fill up their day. You didn’t worry where they ran off because they never left the block. Back then, your kids were safe in someone else’s backyard.
When I was a suburban housewife in the 1970s, I had to find ways to fill up my days as well, but I didn’t have the luxury of T-ball. I had laundry to do. I had groceries to put away in the green Formica cabinets. I had bathroom scum to wipe up. I had Tonka trucks to trip over. Throughout the house, I played music: Neil Diamond, Mack Davis, Crystal Gayle. Back then, music was wholesome and smooth.
I left the albums of my childhood in the closet. My favorites: Buddy Holly, The Kingston Trio, Ella Fitzgerald. Those records were too painful to listen to. It reminded me that I was not in New York anymore. That I would never get a chance to go to the Village Vanguard to hear Dave Brubeck or Thelonious Monk anymore. Now, I was a suburban housewife living outside of Chicago in a land of green manicured lawns and garden gnomes. You didn’t talk about being a New Yorker, let alone a Jewish New Yorker. Back then, you wanted to act as goyish as possible. Wonder Bread was safe bread.