With glowing foreheads,
the black and white film washes away our imperfections.
We look like ancient movie stars.
Or our parents.
My teeth are still a little too big and
his hair is still receding; defectively
accentuating our sincerity. We’re simply
two regular people in love
in the midst of carnie-like bliss.
Faces down in the first picture, still trying to figure out
how the booth-camera works.
The second one we’ve almost mastered it. We’re looking up
but only with astonished “I’ve just seen a UFO”
looks on our faces, or teenagers-at-the-drive-in,
watching “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1956.
The tip of the plastic, inflatable alien sits
just below our heads while we attempt to look natural
in the third one, and by the fourth* we’ve given up
and the alien has taken over.
*Sadly, I cannot find that last picture where the alien’s head is all you can see but you can imagine, surely.
World Wide Hub, Memphis, TN
The earplugs I have to wear
keep my thoughts from spilling
onto the conveyer belt
full of boxes of surprises
for your neighbors.
Pages of productivity
being folded into paper airplanes,
thrown across the country.
Guaranteed landing by 8, 10:30 or 3pm,
A city within a city.
Complete with public transportation,
language-based communities and politics.
Only not very democratic;
owned by one old white guy,
and everyone looks the same.
Blue uniforms inform
onlookers of the unity
we portray but don’t necessarily feel.
That’s why there’s a personnel department
for filing sexual harassment charges
or discrimination complaints.
Sixty percent of the Memphis population
gets back up after dark to start their second shift.
if you think about it.
Especially when it’s cold outside.
Feminism Makes Me Tired
C’mon baby, you need a real man.
You’re just a little ol’ girl
with little ol’ arms
and scrawny little legs.
if you try to do that yourself.
You need a real man, baby.
Let me get that for you.
Did I ask for your help?
I passed the weight test.*
These arms ain’t empty,
these legs ain’t weak
and I ain’t tired.
Actually, you know what, though?
This box is kinda heavy.
Do you think you could get just this one for me?
*the weight test refers to how much a person can lift in order to carry out the job, not how much a person weighs.
In the icy, dim light of an October morning, my love
and I had words. With dense morning breath, back and forth
we made our points. Neither one listening to the other.
I thought of the afternoon before. I had sat comfortably
reclined in the canvas scoop chair his grandfather built. Stray dogs
and cats creeping around, searching,
snooping for treats. I was thinking
about what’s become of my absent mind.
And in that same vein,
a baby cried and it looked like me and I knew
I was telling myself something and it was high
time I listened. I had to relay the message. It wasn’t pretty,
which isn’t unusual for us. He was sweating with frustration
that after all this time
he still doesn’t get me. I saw his
humungous heart and sliver of self, and I knew
that to love him, I have to love the baby
who’s been doing all the yelling.
Finding the Common Thread
There’s a rubber squeezable fish on my windowsill,
and it’s raining outside.
There’s also a mini-Mary statue with a holy blue robe on.
Water’s blue in pictures.
even smaller than Mary, sits solid red
having nothing necessarily to do
with the rain.
A wobble penguin and a 1920s banker man,
about the same size but smaller than Mary,
Both only indirectly associated with the rain,
having nothing, yet everything at once
to do with the quest.
It’s the human knot tying us together.
Rain, covering us
and coloring us, so to speak.
Easter Morning Headache and Other Memories
Waking up before shadows – bored
I found my badly hidden basket for a nine year old
She sent me back to bed and rehid it in the laundry
As she lay on the sofa – arm slung over her eyes the rest of the day
I’d blame myself
For years – it was only a migraine but it should’ve been mine
Warm/hot water sprayed our naked bodies
Hers fat round and safe
Mine small and smooth
I was her sunshine
–off-key and heartfelt–
While she shampooed my hair
Happily tired of waiting for me
I stayed out with the moon – she held on
To a rosary tightly between her sweaty fingers
On the front lawn