NaPo #25: Cordless

Cordless

I always wonder if they get a buzz,
or at least a tingle, in their teeth
like chewing foil. One sticks with usb,
but the other gnaws on power cables.
Transformers add a piquant, oaky tone,
or taste of special kibble, something pricy
that goes rancid quickly but when fresh
is crunchy, oily goodness. I have shocked
myself moving a charging laptop off
the dining table, but the cats are not
internally illumined or all charred
like marshmallows left in a radar range,
transmuted into something grey and strange.

NaPo #23: Coke

Coke

I got too thirsty, sitting
in the car for that endless trek
across Wyoming or Arizona or Utah,
it didn’t really matter just a big,
dusty state in a big, dusty car
and I got a dime from Mom, it was hot
from a hot pocketbook in a hot car
into my hot, sweating hand. I stood
at the big cooler, my hand along
the cold, crimped caps,
it was the kind with clamps
that released when you put in
your sweaty coin and chose
which bottle to pull. Coke
or Orange Crush, the endless debate,
my fingers trailing from one
to the other, and I put
my coin in clinking
and then the rising greed,
thinking two bottles pulled
at the same time
would fool the stupid
machine into releasing both.
I got neither. There is always
someone one step ahead.

NaPo #22: HHS

HHS

A horde of smokers draped across the planters
sitting in their blue haze in the graceful curve

of the building’s frontage. As I came close,
a freckling tourist laughed and took an iPhone picture

her other hand curled around a bottle of water,
with minerals added for the taste of fresh rocks.

I wondered if she could see what I always tried,
what Wikipedia took pains to mention, that

the architecture is Egyptian Revival. You picture
pyramids and Karnak and the women all wearing strap-on

beards, but there is little to untrained eyes but the odd
static frieze above the door, the eyes migrated to the ears’

edges, the feet oddly heel to toe. A man echo
laughed, his arm a sweep of ember

and trailing grey. ‘Health and Human Services!”
he crowed. “Oh we are a picture!” And the crowd,

their eyes migrating to the north, to the tourist
whose sandals flapped against C Street’s quiet sidewalks,

seemed torn between glaring and laughing, between
anger and joy. And chose joy.

NaPo #21: Burley and bright

Burley and bright

He was complaining before he ever slammed
into the driver’s seat, his hands crinkling

on the tobacco’s pouch, never a fumble
in his routine. I hoped he would start the car up

before he lit it, would let me open my window,
but the outrage was too much. (I used to buy

him pipes, I don’t know if I knew
he would die of the smoke and the drink or if

it was like buying him his own hand, he was so lost
without it. Mom always looked at me, her face

set and old. I thought she grew tired of the shoutiness
of his cough, as if he wanted the world to know these lungs

were in the world, like a shocked baby’s first exclamation)
This time, it was a song that set him off. Before

it was Jack Tripper! Living with two women!
(I can’t know now if he hated more that Jack

played at being gay or if it was the straight threesome. I wish
I had sidled up and asked, but I could lose Gilligan

next, or Joe might lose Dukes of Hazzard and he
wouldn’t forgive that. Or we’d have to say

a fumbling rosary, I always found my fingers
too obsessed with the chain and not able to still

on the beads, even the ones made of petals.
I hate the smell of roses.) Or Newhart. No, I never

understood that either. But this time, it all came down
to a song that Maxine chose, the organist coaxing us up and out

with her stolid play, her firm, sharp soprano, afraid of our
Roman Cacophonism, our sad congregation

with too much decorum and not enough pitch.
Simple Gifts. Quakers. Or Shakers. (But o Lord,

not of moneymakers.) No, this time it was theology,
the infidel claiming God wants us stupid, wants

us like fatalistic porcupines just curled up waiting
for the coyotes, hardly daring to hope.

NaPo #20: To the Dying

To the Dying

You could consider generously staying.
You could consider putting to the side
all contemplation of mortality
and just sticking around. Oh, yeah, it sucks
that you’re in pain, but be a mensch and think
(you might need to wake from your coma first)
of our pain, too. This sorrow is much worse
than cancer (of course I have never had
a cancer, but I had a fish that died
when I was eight. I cried for forty five
minutes straight, I’m told. What a great fish,
I’m told. Now doesn’t that just break your heart?)

NaPo #19: And now you’re even older

And now you’re even older

i.

My birthday looms, as does my right eyebrow
in its attempts to mimic Einstein’s ‘do.
It casts more shade than whole groves of bamboo.

ii.

The pollen loves me. Such cannot be said
of sinus medication or my head.

iii.

Old. I’m old. I’m getting older yet
so quickly I’m forgetting to forget.

iv.

Paul Simon said that April come she will
and he was right, but then willy or nilly,
she goes so May may be maybe. Really.

v.

I used to do my taxes with a pen,
now I just sign my name where I am told.
An alchemy–1040s into gold.

vi.

I’m older than I ever was. Tonight
I’ll sleep sleep of the just, as if I were.
All my injustices are just a blur.

NaPo #18: Connect

Connect

Sue’s not here, man. I still don’t know her,
don’t know if she ever had this number or just used
mine to cash a check or pawn off some beered up creep
who wanted the digits and wouldn’t take his palm
from the back of her skinny neck. I used to
answer the phone. I just picked it up
and put it to my ear unthinking, uncaring who
might be on the other side. Fear no evil, fear
no telemarketer nor bill collector, nor pathetic lothario
thinking I’m Sue. Oh I’ve been Ms. Hong
to someone for years. I used to answer
and then they were asking for Sue or the dead
or telling me of the dead and even
if it’s Sue’s dead and not mine, damn,
just tell my voicemail. Sue’s head
will droop roundly on her skinny neck soon
enough. She may owe someone. It isn’t me.

Surviving is Underrated