I’m not going to pay for groceries this week, not when my neighbors discarded half-rotted vegetables in the common garbage dumpster. I’ll go for vodka and rob the gas station. Please just do what I say. I didn’t know my wife was pregnant, she didn’t want to tell me until she was sure. We’ve been trying for years and now the moment has arrived, replete with dividing cells. Open the cash register and give me everything except the one dollar bills.
I searched for you today in all the usual places. The world wide web revealed nothing.
I understand these are extraordinary times but without word from you, vintage music videos, predictions of nuclear conflagration, my mind burns oil like my cousin’s low rider. Choking on smoke at every red light. All things will slow to 33 rpms just as my bumper breaks through the retaining wall. Everything I do is to keep us alive. Don’t you know that, don’t you know that I’ve already seen myself die a thousand times for no purpose? Pick me, I’m your driver.
I want to wake up tomorrow as a beast outside of mortal reckoning. Outside of starvation or elevators that skip the 13th floor. A best-selling novelist gets on at seven and refuses to sign copies of His Masterpiece without compensation. A quick kiss on his wrinkled cheek, a pair of unwashed panties, a chance to put his hand inside my blouse before we reach the lobby.
I want to exist outside of memory, forgetting the piano left behind when 2,000 miles of loose soil collapsed in our front yard. Hunger is not the worst thing but it’s a close second to every other demise. Near suffocation, whether by dust storm or plastic bag, leaves me in the same condition. Traveling by wheelchair to family reunions with survival tales worthy of the grownup table.
The eyes do certain reflexive things when something interests you. Solar panels, pizza coupons, WD-40 rebates, all re-purposed and purposeful things. If you spend it, you’re not saving it. The sideways glance, the unplanned spark, the romantic dinner purchased for half price. This is subject to abuse with belladonna, lightning rods or sleight-of-hand rabbit tricks.
You’ll drive 10 miles out your way for free whipped cream whether or not you need it. Your head battles with charity functions, the price of home-baked donated muffins. You’ll put your hand in a bag of poisonous snakes but you’re terrified to open your wallet. The truth is it is a very hardcore sexual cue. The reason you’ve owned the same gasping dishwasher for over 30 years.
Beth Gordon is a poet who lives in St. Louis, Missouri and spends most weekends in the company of fellow writers, musicians, wine drinkers, and two dogs named Izzie and Max. She is the lucky mother of three creative human beings, Matt, Alex and Elise, who fill her world with art and music.