June 5, 2020

Pre-Order

did you pre-order the smiling hostess asks
I shake my head no, and she says to go upstairs
I trudge up the small wooden stairs with 20 coats of brown paint
downtown lunch hour and it’s 40 minutes to cook deep dish
so you better pre-order unless you just want a quick bite or make your own lunch schedule
I sit down and look at the glossy menu with the pretty generic pictures
pizzas, italian beefs, strombolis, calzones, chicken parmigiana sandwiches 
beer domestic or imported- wine for the connoisseurs 
I decide for the deep dish, I got plenty of time 
I order and then stare at my phone- like a long lost friend 
a life preserver in a raging sea of awkwardness 
at the table next to me is two fast approaching middle age women and a guy from a 1950’s coffee table magazine 
who asks one of the women “how is your mother in terms of health?”
they look bored out of their skulls but he must be paying
plastic plants desperately look like they need some water
cliche checkerboard tablecloths on the tables pictures of local celebrities on the walls
little gun metal gray elevator dings when they send something up from the kitchen
mister balding, black frame glasses glances at his designer timex and says to the two women “Let's rock and roll” 
probably an exciting insurance seminar to get to 
no reaction from the two casting agency office women 
they just look at each other with blank stares

as animated as the plastic plants

June 3, 2020

It's Always Sinatra

ice cold queen bed with heavy heavy homemade quilt
made by some old grandma, not sure whom
gray furnace thumping in the spare bedroom
with the new obsolete record player
plays some old records I got at an auction 
a 45 that has russian military instrumentals on both sides 
heartaches by the number by someone named guy mitchell
a record about a poor little robin walking to missouri
nothing I'd ever heard of
no rare beatles records or valuable gems 
I never get that lucky 
they say it will snow overnight and into tomorrow --probably a foot
severe storm warning posted for the central part of the state 
if so, the interstate may be blocked by the blowing winds creating whiteout conditions 
sporadically working electric stove, toaster oven, a little food in the fridge
keep the water dripping so the pipes don’t freeze
winter time--not many people down to the lake now
nights are eerily quiet when you step outside for a smoke
not like summer--swimming, boating, frolicking
tourists out the yingyang
but now just locals and a few hardy out of towners like myself 
dinner at the forum restaurant--red carpet, drapes and soft music
out of place in this country town where you can buy
tongue and brain sandwiches down the street
new york steak medium well, steak fries, dinner rolls
always good—might be the last good meal for a while
sinatra playing over the speakers--it’s always sinatra
I’ve been in here fifty times and it’s always sinatra
waitress teaches full time at the high school--interesting
raising two teenagers herself she tells me 
two other people in the place
hot dogs, crackers, beans, potato chips at home
maybe some canned peaches, should of stocked up
too late now, grocery store closed at six
go to bed warily anticipating the next few days
woke up in the morning dreading to look outside 
--not even a dusting- idiot weathermen

June 1, 2020

The Lucky Ones Are Dead

my favorite fruit is melancholy
I dress in black except when I'm dressed in black
I have a miniature cemetery in my yard with tombstones
there must be dead things in there
ants beetles crickets a-z
dead leaves appropriately lie in it
a lookalike freshly covered over grave
fresh grave chic I like to think of it
cenotaph like concrete block in the east 40
read the obituaries anyone I know?
my name will be there someday, will anyone care?
all my family is dead or in prison
the lucky ones are dead so it sayeth in Ecclesiastes 4: 2
visiting graveyards is my pastime 
it’s quiet, calming, puts things in perspective as they like to say
why does it grip me like a hand reaching out from a crypt?
maybe it’s because both my grandparents
had houses next to cemeteries
spent hours walking around them while the adults played pinochle
on maple dining room tables with a ubiquitous leaf
drinking highballs from fancy glass tumblers
french doors led to the front parlor where the grandfather clock lived
the television was in there
always seemed that british show the avengers was on
—-I can’t explain this fascination
personally I’m opting for cremation
spread my ashes in the bay
float away float away