The Spoken Word
March - #2
After Tom Tom crossed the beach
to ask my friends and I for wine
his question filled my mind for hours
as things do, and circled
as things do, and expanded tenfold
as things do. I saw him, I swear I did,
the past Tom Tom wriggling into shape
in the sand grains
as I looked down at my toes, stretching.
His landscape took over the sandscape:
Pacific Boulevard sprouted
on the strand, dunes-buildings,
and Tom Tom strutting along,
flat-bill cocked up, whistling a
whispery tune and twirling
around streetlamps with
not a rain cloud for miles,
licking up the sea breeze,
at ease and chillin’ hard.
Tom Tom was walking down Pacific, right,
and he was super baked, right,
so he had his eyes closed
and he thought he smelled this fish market
over to the left, right,
and he took a big whiff
“Top o’ the mornin’, ladies,”
‘cause Afroman’s Crazy Rap had been
running through his head for hours,
right? But no response.
He opened his eyes
to a 7-11, not a fish market in sight,
and he realized:
This whole city smells like a fish market.
I must be really high.
So just after sundown in this
small beach town, Tom Tom
went to browse around for
some cheap wine
to pour into his down time:
Still a few hours
‘til the dead-head crowd would hit the beach
and bring him some prospective clients.
So he walked in, whistling away,
halfway present, floating really,
and the 7-11 clerk stood up and said,
“Hello sir, you can’t come in here
without a shirt or shoes on. Sorry,
sir.” Tom Tom, still half-present,
still halfway whistling through a
halfway grin, told him,
“Don’t worry ‘bout it, good sir.
I’m just popping in for a wine,
my fine sir, nothing to fret
yourself over right here.” And
he winked and he bounced
to the fridge in the back.
(Now he thought it,
he hadn’t thought a bit about
his minimalistic fashion.
No, he’d just bopped out the house
and whistled his way to warmth,
as one does in the coastal Virginia autumn.)
This clerk was having none of it.
“Sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave.
Sorry, sir.” Bold the “S” in “Sorry”
to denote at once the greatest
sincerity and insincerity. Still
Tom Tom floated up the aisle,
whipped out a bottle,
sniffed it with a flourish
with the cork still on,
hand on a hip and
swilling it. “Hm. Nice, nice…”
“Sir, please leave, sir.”
Such politeness! Tom Tom was certain
the clerk had not a problem with him,
just giving lip service to policy,
right. So he
trip tropped up the aisle
as a Tom Tom does and
twirled with his wine and then
hopped in the check-out line,
smiling a wide one to the
utterly pissed clerk.
“But wait, my good man,
I’m on my way out.
I’ll pay for this wine—“
He pulled out his $4.36—
“then jump out lickety-split.
“Put up the wine and leave,
sir.” The two other customers—
a woman, age thirty
but looking forty what with
the occasional crack,
Almost Beautiful Charlene
drank every Friday:
Heaved it jumping,
messy, nasty olfactorous
Quite rank stuff;
the ultimate vomit,
with exquisite yellow
Flight 300, KC to MKE, Row 23
To my left, in seat F, by the window
a man in an old-time Brewers cap
sits hunched over a Sudoku magazine
tray table down. Nothing but his pencil
has moved for twenty minutes.
He backs it into his mouth once
in a while and bites down on it
while he thinks.
To my right, in seat D, on the aisle
a young woman in a Marquette sweatshirt
earbuds in, shuffles
through her iTunes
sampling one song after the other.
I’m between them in seat E
elbows drawn in tight, thumbs holding
open an anthology of poems
all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
–Billy Collins, Introduction to Poetry
even you, Billy, might torture
trying to decode, discover
some reason for its being.
Some sounds hide no secrets,
some dance in masks:
…a silhouette of Magda prances,
pirouettes in Baghdad, and chances are…
Some words sit on fences,
some ride on nuances:
…we’re mourning this morning where
workers once were pouring corning ware,
but pour no more…
Strap it in a chair,
attach the electrodes,
the electricity courses
but it’s protecting its sources
till the shocking end.
~ Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, WI, a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, has poems published by Stoneboat, Blue Collar Review, Verse Wisconsin, Gyroscope Review, and others. His chapbook, Who Are We Then?, was published by Partisan Press. A full-length collection, A Tar Pit to Dye In, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Ed won the Poetry Society of Michigan’s Margo Lagattuta award, 2015.
Victoria Anne Williams
Marilyn Zelke Windaw
Michael Lee Johnson
Dr. Blaise Allen
~ Elizabeth Beck is a writer, artist and teacher who lives with her family on a pond in Lexington, Kentucky. Author of two books of poetry, she is also the founder of The Teen Howl Poetry Series that serves the youth of central Kentucky. To learn more about Elizabeth, please visit: http://www.elizbeck.com.
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