IF ONLY A BULL

In our family Murphy was a god, and his law was the eleventh commandment. I often wanted to ask at what moment my childhood ended. Had to be before my twelfth birthday, before the day on which I went from greeter at one of my father’s business parties in our oversized family room, to bartender, with no increase in pay. But I did develop a taste for Southern Comfort, so that was something of benefit. Once I did talk mom into letting me take the terror kids for an ice cream while she carried on her endless quest to replace the one small plate from her Royal Worcester china, never mind that she’d only once used eight place-settings which marked her personal best. But if you had twelve of every other piece, you could hardly have only eleven small plates. She did, I was told years later, finally give up the quest when, reaching for what she thought was the plate of her desires, she knocked over a Wedgewood platter, three large Belleek Vases and a Royal Daulton soup tureen. I had two sons, never saw the need to go to china shops, and the terror kids never married or had families.

VICTIM OF TECHNOSTANCE

He says, “it’s like learning to walk again
after you’ve had a stroke, you know you can
but nothing seems to work quite right when you try.”

She says, “you just upgrading from one model iPhone
to the newer model, so don’t overplay it,
it isn’t a matter of life itself you know.
And if you didn’t need the newest and latest
you wouldn’t have this problem would you?”

He says, “You’re right to that extent, but think
if I didn’t need the newest and latest
I’d hardly be a male of my species, so
be thankful i’m having these problems.
Anyway, i think i have it now, finally.”

She says, “why didn’t you answer when I called?
You said you had the phone figure out,
so turn around and go get the milk and butter,
Sorry about the rain, it was sunny when I called
as you are leaving the office for here.”

GOING BANANAS

She examines each banana
looking at it from all sides,
looking down its shaft
as though sighting a rifle.
Each banana, in turn, she gently
places back on the pile.
My patience grows thin,
but I smile and ask her
if I might approach the bin,
grab a small bunch of bananas,
be done with my shopping.
I see five with skins
are a uniform yellow, no
dark spots to be seen.
She frowns a bit and I say,
“Did you want these?”
“Oh no,” she says, “I don’t
want those — like most
the curvature is all wrong.”

SEOUL OF A NEW MACHINE

I

Apartment buildings
sprout, neat orderly,
so many headstones
in a cemetery marking
the gravesite of
ancient rural culture.

II

A slow morning
in Itaewon,
for you special deal
finest leather,
best quality gems,
but I prefer
precipitously plunging
prices of Rollex’s
last chance, $6.

III

Apartment building faces
studded with small
satellite dishes
perched carefully
on tiny balconies,
aimed skyward
breaking impenetrable
borders, offering shows
not yet sucked
clean of life,
What’s the frequency
Kenneth?

IV

In the Duty Free Shop
at Walker Hill
clothing and cosmetics
are quoted in dollars,
alcohol in yen.

CHECKOUT LINE

Time seems frozen in the checkout line
stuck between the Mars bars
and the tabloids, you wonder
how Liz could survive a total body
liposuction, and further details of how
OJ killed in a moment of lust.
The old woman in front rummages
in her change purse certain she has
the eighty-seven cents, the coins
lost in a blue haze reflected off her hair.
Two aisles over the young mother
her jaw clenched in frustration
keeps putting the life savers back
on the shelf as her child, fidgeting
in the cart grabs another roll, until
she shouts and slaps his hand.
His cry draws stares from all and she
stares at the floor as he grabs
a Three Musketeers and Certs.
A man in the express line swears
that the apples were marked 89 cents
and wants to see the manager
who calmly explains that Granny Smiths
are a dollar twenty-nine and only small
Macintoshes are on sale this week.
He puts the bag on the scale
and stalks out of the store.
I would shift to the express lane
but I have 16 items and must
continue to wait and wonder
how many incisions it would take
for a full body liposuction.


First Appeared in Kimera, Vol. 3, No.2, Winter 1998.