Don’t Sit in my Hall Closet, Collecting Dust
Why all the ringers have to be dead ones,
the telephone company has yet to explain,
this facecloth full of ice over my knee
as though a personal ice age is happening,
that cooling off period you feel in your heart long before
you hurt someone waiting to be hurt again;
don’t sit in my hall closet, collecting dust
or I will think you some over-exposed pictures
of people that no longer exist or perhaps
that lone expired stick of deodorant that promised
vanilla right on the label;
my yellow-bruised leg thrown up over
the arm of some sweat-drenched poor boy
payment plan couch,
another tray of cubes in the failing icebox,
misshapen pillows like an afternoon
of brand-new deformities
Do You Want to Know about the Japanese Yakuza?
I am sitting in the mall food court
enjoying the second half of a submarine sandwich.
This table of young guys is having a belching competition
and throwing food at other patrons.
Families quickly get up
and lead their children away.
This only spurs the antics on.
I feel a piece of food hit my back.
I say nothing and keep eating.
The lettuce on my sandwich is wilty.
Like the elderly in neglected sun chairs.
When the table of young guys gets up to leave they linger.
One leans over my table and keeps breathing
heavily as though he is winded.
Do you mind?
I glare at the kid.
His bigger friend comes over in a muscle shirt
that shows off his hairless nipples.
Those are cute, do they come in an extra-large?
The heavy breather laughs even though
he knows he is not supposed to.
There a problem, old man?
The muscle shirt stands over me.
If you stare at me any harder with those puppy dog eyes,
I say, people will think that we are together.
Puppy dog eyes does not know what to say.
You gonna let him talk to you like that Trev,
I hear a voice from behind me.
I turn to find four more of them.
Listen to your idiot friend, I say.
He seems like a real keeper.
Maybe I should just knock your ass out,
what do you think about that old man?
I think you should take turns instead of all trying
to lose your virginity at once.
Space things out, I say.
Don’t be in such a hurry to fluff
each other’s pompoms.
Puppy dog eyes seems visibly upset.
His face is red like a stoplight.
Maybe we should go outside old man?
I agree. You should all go outside.
Fresh air is good for the lungs.
This guy’s crazy Trev,
I hear another voice from behind.
I wipe my mouth with my napkin
and take out my big hunting knife.
That beautiful slicing noise it makes
as I slowly remove it from its black leather sheath.
Do you want to know about the Japanese Yakuza?
Everyone grows real quiet and steps back.
Put your hand down on the table Slim,
I say to the skinny kid who was breathing heavily.
Stretch your fingers out as far as they go.
One of the ones from behind me raps puppy dog eyes
on the chest and they walk off.
Not wanting to know about the Japanese Yakuza.
I finish my drink and
empty the trash into the garbage.
Then I head up the escalator
to make a dentist’s appointment.
The receptionist has one of those headsets,
so that I can never tell if she is
talking to me.
There are three people in the waiting room.
They all have cavities.
I can tell without even looking.
A giant poster of gingivitis
on the far wall keeps tonguing itself.
Warnings of gum disease everywhere
to keep the fear lobby happy.
Someone has to be afraid.
It may as well be you.
keeps telling me
about all the money
he has, but he says
I can’t see it
and he can’t see it either
even when I ask
which seems like magic
which I guess it is
when you consider the
scale of the hustle
and the sheer lunacy it takes
to talk about your
invisible money with
others and how rich everyone