No Messages, Please
Please stop sending me emails that profess your love.
Remembering what we used to have pains me so.
Over the years I had happily come to forget you and
friends either never knew you existed or didn’t care.
Even my psychiatrist stopped asking about you.
So now you come back into my life via the internet
spreading your particular brand of disease again.
I don’t think I can take this ride with you.
Oh, don’t be too offended. It’s been twenty years--
nothing is now the way it was then,
and I have changed so much over time.
Love is the furthest thing from my mind these days
so please, just log off and go away.
Andy Rooney Examines Fear
Let’s examine for a moment, fear--
Some are rational and understandable:
The fear of losing your penis,
especially by means involving a knife.
The fear of accidentally walking
into the women’s restroom and being caught.
The fear of soiling one’s pants
in a public place. An irrational fear would be
the fear of eggplant parmesan Panini.
I happen to like a good Panini.
The fear of faux fur.
The fear of radio waves.
The fear of any particular season
would be debilitating. FDR said we
have nothing to fear but fear itself.
That kind of makes sense
in a very Zen sort of way. The dictionary
states that fear is an unpleasant feeling
of anxiety caused by the presence of danger.
Where is the danger in being a eunuch
or of being publicly embarrassed? Italian
sandwiches, textiles and changes in weather
all appear pretty harmless.
Do we just enjoy being scared?
I always think of you on a barstool at the Eagles
club with a glass of beer in your left hand
and a menthol cigarette in the right,
dress pulled tight over your knees
just like every other lady there:
rides in a carnival.
Later, tearing through town
in your little Rambler coupe,
holding the tip of your smoke
out the window, you told me
you’d quit but you enjoyed it
too much. You were still my heroine.
Grandpa knew about your obsession
but you never let him actually see you.
It was more fun to pretend
that he didn’t know. No amount
of chlorophyll gum could hide the smell
on your breath and your clothes and hair.
Months before you died, when the cancer
ravaged your insides, and the pain medicine
made you a zombie shell of yourself, I remember
sitting on our front porch. You told me
how much you missed your cigarettes,
and if the doctors said you only had two weeks to live,
you would go out and get a carton of cigarettes
and a case of beer.
I often do as you used to:
Sit on the porch swing
on a warm summer evening,
a cigarette dangling between
my lips. I enjoy each drag immensely,
watch the smoke
take a myriad of shapes.
Sometimes in these relaxed moments
you are there beside me on the swing
with your green pack of Salems and your lighter
tucked into your gold lame carrying pouch,
a lipstick stained butt between your
index and middle fingers.
About That Book
These poems were made in China.
Here, look at the back of the book:
Right there under the name and address
of the famous publishing house
with offices in New York, it says it
in the small print: Made In China.
I know it has the name of a popular author
on it’s cover, and even his photo,
but it was ghost-written by two Chinese
poets in a writer’s sweat shop in the
arts district of Hong Kong.
But these guys were lucky. They only had
to write free verse. The less fortunate
work twelve to fourteen hour days
writing sonnets, pantoons and villanelles.
Amnesty International is working hard
to win them the right to create flash
fiction and short stories as we speak.
Anyway, we all know that reading cheap,
inferior Chinese poetry is bad
for the economy. So, remember this
the next time you pick up a new book
of poetry: check out the back cover first,
and read American.